Have you ever walked into a store only to discover that they’ve moved everything around? We’ll bet you did! Your favorite go-to items are nowhere to be found! When we ask an assistant, they give us a glassy stare and shrug. Poor fellows, they have been up half the night shifting the shelves around because management decided it was time to change the store. Unfortunately, this is common practice in the retail world, but many shoppers can find it dizzying and disorienting.
BACK TO BASICS: THE CUSTOMER IS KING
Consequently, a website overhaul can result in similar customer reactions. Often times communication within a company can also fail to alert employees about the brand overhaul and create more confused workers. Well let me tell you this. This is the worst way to lose your customers to the competition. Brick and mortar stores bleed business the same way. If you can’t immediately find the sandwich spread, you go next door.
How Changing Everything at the Same Time is a Bad Idea
Your website design team may have cobbled a letter together trying to describe the changes coming up. Poor fellows: They are far too close to the tree trunks to explain the way through the forest. Besides, most folk only take on board new information when they need it. Did you ever get an SMS telling you the builders’ tools will be against the south wall in a week’s time? But, they forgot to explain the building orientation? That’s enough of this rant. You got the message. The traditional way of redesigning websites in one go, every few years, sucks. It’s time-consuming and expensive. It confuses the hell out of customers, and front office staff too. The only people who are having fun are down in the IT department. They are admiring their slick new creation because it (mostly) works fine and they know where the pages are. Read: Traditional Web Design vs Growth Driven Design
Why We Need a Smarter Approach to Web Design
Would you agree with us that the better way to rearrange a hardware store is in stages? Sure the fit is not always perfect, but that’s what planning is for. In fact, the store owner may even find some departments don’t need changing. That’s our biggest beef about total website rewrites. Back in 1977, President Jimmy Carter’s director of management and budget Bert Lance coined the phrase “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” which many promptly forgot. So the smarter way to web design is doing it in stages on an as-needed basis. This is not only smart. It makes economic sense because you can spread your IT spend, and not have to invest so much in retraining. You also have a happier customer base more disposed to give you business. In fact, the first question to consider in website redesign is looking for proof it will actually increase sales. The smart way to do this would be to ask customers what they wanted. But they might be thinking of something else and confuse you with their answers at the time. This brings us to the next main point. If you can’t rely on customer feedback, then you should watch what they are doing, and learn from it. To jump ahead, if a page has a high bounce rate, or a low dwell time, fix it.
Bert Lance might have said, if a page is bringing in the bacon, leave it alone.
Therefore, the smart way to redesign websites is to improve them continuously using input from customer behavior data. That way, you learn more about your users and how they interact with your content. Once you understand their collective persona, you can start doing even monthly proactive improvements. But do have a chat box standing by to help, when you are doing growth-driven design. In Brief:
- User-driven process
- Continuous and proactive improvement based on data
- Design and content that fits your buyer personas
How Growth-Driven Design Pulls These Thoughts Together
Growth-driven design, or GDD, informs businesses should only do activities that drive the growth-sales-revenue cycle. Hence, it focuses on aspects of a website where improvements will bring proven benefits. Its exponents advocate allowing a web presence to become a dynamic, almost living creature. In this model, essential changes evolve quickly, because the process is simply… simpler. Compare this to the traditional development model we referred to earlier. This is ponderous, because board-driven control takes time to decide. However, with a smaller change, IT can shoot a message up like we are changing so-and-so to make it quicker and hardly make a ripple. Such changes happen fast in the foreknowledge that bugs are easier to find, and fix. Everybody is pleased about the changes, because it is customer-needs-driven. This means more sales, more revenue, and lower, smoother IT spend. In Brief:
- Quicker reaction time to changes needed
- Happier customers buy more
- Revenue increase
- Less expensive in the long term
How to Switch Over to a Mobile-First Approach Work
But wait. There is yet another thing to stir into the melting pot when it comes to putting customers first. More users than ever are viewing websites on small-screen mobile devices than desktops, and the gap is growing. Yet web designers use large screens, and test their work across fast internet connections. This is understandable. What makes less sense is they dumb their work down for those smaller screens and slower connections. Given that mobile use is growing with no sign of tapering off, it actually makes more sense to up-design mobile sites than dumb-down internet ones. If a website is so responsive it can zip along on the average smartphone, imagine how much better it will perform on the web. Remember, mobile users don’t only get cross-eyed squinting at tiny fonts. They also have to work around tacky connectivity, less battery life, and less processing power while possibly jolting along in a badly lit subway train. It is time to start putting mobile users ahead in the queue when it comes to customer-driven change. Our data will tell us where they are searching, and where they are having hassles. Growth-driven design lets us change those critical pages first without interrupting the overall flow of the site. Then we can focus our efforts on tweaking them, until they are even better. In Brief:
- GDD takes into account mobile users needs
- Sites are built to fit the mobile environment
- Removing barriers in the buyer’s journey increases conversions
How to Optimize Transforming Customer Data into Sales
If we were to decide to open a restaurant, which we are decidedly not thinking of doing, we would first start by scanning the opportunities. If there were no Italian restaurants in the area, that could be a start. But we would first need know about the neighborhood persona. Could the average person afford a plate of saltimbocca washed down with a glass of chianti? What about their cultural dining habits. We would have to know more. We would need data.
Read: Using and Understanding Big Data to Optimize Your Online Strategy Similarly, when redesigning a web page, we need to know its ultimate purpose first. Is it informing, drawing closer, or selling? Where are the visitors likely to be in their decision journey? Are they already confirmed leads we garnered elsewhere? Or, are we generating leads by converting casual visitors? Perhaps none of these is correct. We could be generating traffic for Google’s sake and earning brownie points. Each of these events has their moments. It is incredibly important to know which applies. This is the core of data-driven marketing. A website and every page on it must point to a single call to action. In all likelihood, this will be to sell a product, a service, a set of values, or a belief. A customer-centric web page must build around the target audience persona too. They will only purchase from someone they identify as ‘the good guys’ with their interests at heart. In the case of our Italian restaurant, this collective persona will influence the menus, the ingredients, and the dishes that we serve. First, we need to collect input about the visitors to our website. Do they want to learn more about our industry, exchange their email addresses for our eBook, or are they genuinely shopping? What do the page stats tell us? Is it working, or should we fix it? And what can we glean about their interests? Read: Why Developing Buyer Personas is Crucial for Business Armed with this information, we can start building pages based on our customer personality. Moreover, we have an idea of what their interests are, and why they visit our pages. This bottom-up approach is so much more logical than dry strategizing, dare we say guesswork. Even better, we can make the changes faster. That’s because we are using the growth web design approach, where we only update what we need to, one step at a time. In Brief:
- Define goals
- Build buyer personas
- Gather real time data
- Leverage this data to match offers to needs
- Measure, improve, convert
Now ask yourself a question. If you have a raft of customer data, and you are breaking into new markets, when last did you update your website to reflect this? Is your website a living breathing thing, or is it dying slowly? And finally, are you happy with the answer you gave yourself?
SiO Digital is an international online agency that specializes in lead generation through the combination of Math Marketing and Inbound Marketing.