How Do I Get the Most Value From My Website?
If you’ve followed this series in order, we’ve covered a lot of ground. You’re beginning to see web assets in a new way, but we are still just getting started.
Early on in this series, I mentioned that most entrepreneurs struggle to extract value from their websites. Now, we have come to a place where we can begin to fix this unfortunate fact.
And, you’ll see why we prefer to call them web assets.
Whatever the name we use, in order to reap the tremendous benefits of having a digital property (a website) with a custom domain name (one which you own) you’ll want to keep a few guidelines in mind.
Follow the principles of growth-driven design
The ability to adopt and maintain a lean mindset is the critical factor stopping businesses from leveraging their websites well. Over-focusing on look and feel, leads entrepreneurs astray.
The driving force behind growth is making every phase into a “now you can” moment for the customer. You’ve built something. Gotten feedback. Built another version…
What can they do now?
Growth-driven design is about much more than the addressing the look and feel of the website. It is about how the asset evolves over time.
- What does it grow into?
- What could it allow our customers to do?
- What could it help us do?
Better yet, how do we create the asset so that it funds it’s own evolution?
You’ll often hear Wabbits refer to something as a Minimum Viable Product — meaning, a product (or offer) that is the bare minimum required to validate our idea.
We adopt this mindset because we are looking for a way to get meaningful feedback as quickly as possible. The more we can keep iterations small and simple, the faster we can iterate through cycles of testing.
User-focused research is where the magic is when growing a web asset.
If you don’t have an audience yet, you begin by defining a potential target audience and researching what that audience might want.
We seek them out and ask them. This process is called discovery, and it is the day-one, fundamental work required to understand the people we aim to engage.
The iterative validation process we discussed earlier… that is the feedback loop we are trying to move through.
- We build something for an audience.
- We give it to that audience and watch our data, because we learn from data, and direct feedback.
- We then make a revised version (implementing what we’ve learned), and do it all again.
Yes, success is as simple as repeating this three-step process — but that does not mean it will be easy.
Make relevant, useful content, and aim it at your audience.
At its best, the website will become a cornerstone of your company — and one of the ways we facilitate that, is creating content that helps our audience.
We can always improve our products. We often forget that we can improve our customers too.
“Upgrade your user, not your product. Don’t build better cameras — build better photographers.”
— Kathy Sierra
As you business grows and changes, so do the questions customers will ask. A website can hold all of this information and become a customer’s most trusted resource when they need to know something.
Highly-valued content can come in all kinds of forms, and a wide range of lengths. Make it as long as it needs to be, and no longer.
Don’t forget to consider how you intend to make your content rank in search engines. Plenty of people think they do SEO well, very few of them actually do.
You need to create content, from the ground up, focused on appearing in search results.
(How did you find us again?)
Depending on the nature of your business, long-form edutainment can be a remarkably rewarding effort, but…
It must be grounded in what the user desires most.
What can your website offer them?
What can they do now, because of the site?
Integrate with the other sub-systems of the business.
The truly amazing benefit of a good site is the ability to integrate with other services across the internet to connect and automate wildly complex components of your business system.
This unique, chaotic mash of tools, flows, procedures, interactions, and situations, is what we affectionately call the “messy middle.”
And although its appearance will be completely unique to your business, we guarantee there is a way to connect to something which has the potential to be profoundly useful to your company.
Most immediately, you’ll want to spend time with your analytics data. Pay attention to the traffic coming to your site. Get a sense for where people are visiting from and how long they stay.
- How did they find you?
- What information do they linger on?
An email list is another critical slice of the business-system pie. You will want to connect to an email marketing system. Choose one which allows you to begin building a list of contact information and, segment those who have shown interest in hearing from you.
If you’re running an e-commerce site (like a shop powered by WooCommerce), there are all sorts of ways to enhance a shopping experience for the customer.
Pay attention to what your website platform can do.
If something seems compellingly useful, it might make an excellent choice to test.
If you find something, you and your designer can make a plan to test it in a controlled, measurable way.
Everything we do is deliberate.
If the customer responds positively, that’s a green light to make it a permanent feature.
With good research, lean strategy, and proper testing, your site will evolve into something which handles an unfathomably large number of tasks for you. One of the ways we get there, is strong, useful integrations.
Time-consuming tasks can be automated.
Integrating with the right systems allows the site to automate just about any task we can give it.
The array of tasks that become possible when we link a website, a customer relationship management system, and an email marketing system all together are mind-blowingly cool:
- Automatic appointment scheduling
- Automatic post-appointment follow up emails
- Post-sale thank you emails
- Timed outreach to customers we haven’t seen in a bit.
- Reports that help us better understand the behaviors and desires of our audience relative to a given metric
- Automated analysis of traffic and sales data
If there is a task needing done, and it involves something digital, the combined powers of your website, and the various systems it can integrate with, can handle it.
Bringing us back, like a flywheel, to the concept powering the whole journey…
Build, Measure, Learn
I’m cheating a little because I called this Growth-Driven Design earlier. The truth is, whether we call it GDD, the Build-Measure-Learn loop, Lean method, or whatever… they are all essentially the same idea.
Just different terms explaining the same concept.
I have to reiterate the point, because that iterative approach is the key takeaway of this article.
You want to approach a website with a phase mindset. Start with the minimum necessary. Only add things (features, etc) in intentional, focused phases. Eventually you’re going to need to focus your efforts on getting website visitors. You can apply this same conceptual framework to that effort.
Elsewhere on this site, you’ve heard Wabbits talk about Flywheels. You could also call them feedback loops. This is a priceless concept. When you see how feedback loops apply to the rest of the business system we’re talking about, the realization of possibilities will blow your mind.
Let’s wrap up this leg of our journey together…