“Have you looked at our website…what do you think?” That’s the question I’ve been asked most over the last 20 years, but surely it’s out of date now? So why is it still the question I keep hearing?
So many people still forget that design is subjective but that effectiveness is not and website performance should be measured rather than a matter of opinion. Ultimately it is effectiveness that translates into sales, customer satisfaction and profit.
We also need to get to grips with the fact that all digital experiences should be constantly evolving based on that measurement. Running constant tests to optimise and beat the performance of the current experience should not be an option but an imperative.
As with many things in the digital world the old rules still apply and it has never been truer that you can only manage what you measure. The only way I’d update that is to say that by measuring too much you could create a complexity that is very hard to manage.
There are so many metrics that can be measured that it can get overwhelming but you should consider what is really important and focus on that. Is it important to get more visitors to the site or to convert more visitors into customers?
The things you measure should have a direct link to what is important for your business success or there is no point in measuring them. I don’t believe there is a standard list of key measurements but your list of metric types to consider should include:
- Who is visiting your site?
- What are they doing on your site?
- Where are they coming from?
- Do they like what they see?
- How do your key conversion pages and functions perform?
- What is your cost per acquisition / account / registration?
- How many visitors come back and transact again?
Once you have decided on your key metrics and have created a baseline of measurement you need to establish your programme of tests aimed at improving your performance. The sophistication of your experience and technology may dictate the complexity of testing but even a simple A/B test is really effective at driving successful improvements, and at stopping you implementing a change that will have a negative impact.
It once took me and my team over 9 months of continual testing to create an application form that converted better than the current “champion” which had been in place for over 2 years and we all agreed looked terrible. But the culture and energy that challenge created resulted in many other changes which all improved effectiveness and the bottom line.
And I’ve been in many organisations who tell me that their digital experience benchmarks really well against their competition and isn’t a priority to improve but over time that kind of complacency is really costly.
We can always improve, but sometimes it is more difficult to get the quick wins, that attitude is what sets us apart from the competition.
So next time I’m in an interview situation or meeting a client for the first time I really hope they aren’t going to ask for an opinion on their website but rather want to have a discussion on measuring effectiveness and driving incremental change.