Do you want better performance from your website? Treat it like an employee
Do you want better performance from your website? Treat it like an employee.
I’ve been able to take part in a lot of website re-designs. A total website redesign is the result of a failure. I say that as someone who enjoys being a part of redesigns. Realizing the failure and working to fix it is great. Repeating this process of building a new website, getting a few good years out of it, letting it decline until it’s obsolete and starting over again – not so great. How do you interrupt the cycle? Treat your website like an employee. Here’s how:
1. Start with a job description
Write a job description for your website. This should be a collective activity involving all stake-holders. Make it no more than ten items and order them based on priority with one being the highest.
Want a sample you can adapt to your own needs? I took a few I’ve made for some past projects and combined them into one. Click here to get it.
Website design projects are plagued by scope creep even before the site launches. The piling on of extra functions and duties continues post launch. Giving the website ranked job duties helps limit what goes on a site. Remember, “other duties as assigned” means “if you can after you did the rest of your job.”
2. Review performance regularly against both long-term and short-term goals
Does your organization conduct performance reviews monthly, quarterly, annually? How often do you review the performance of your website? I advise clients to be looking at their website performance monthly, if not weekly. This can sound daunting, and it can be if you feel like you have to take in the performance of all the pieces that make up an entire website.
Don’t do this. Instead, focus on the most important functions of the website. Identify pain points and begin working on over-coming those pain points.
The best way I’ve found to do this is by deploying regular user tests. User testing is a great way to get real feedback on your site. SpurCG offers website user testing a self-service solution that you can buy right from our website.
We’ll help you get the user tests set-up and conduct them for you as well as provide analysis along with the results of the test. You can also do user tests yourself through various services – just beware – most of the services require that you create your own testing regimens which can be tricky if you have not done it before.
3. Give your website professional development to help it stay relevant to changing demands
Continuously improve your site by incorporating new technologies that will help your site carry out its “job duties.” Ignore your site alone for a few years and it can quickly begin to feel out-dated leading to a costly re-design. Make small improvements to the site a few times each year and you’ll find your website has more staying power and costs less to maintain in the long-run.
Firing someone is never the best option. It’s disruptive and risky. The same is true for a website. If your website has been neglected for too long a full redesign might be needed. I’ll be writing another blog on designing your last new website.
Using small adjustments over time to keep your website current allows for greater continuity of brand experience. For example, when was the last time Amazon.com had a major refresh? Hard to say isn’t it. But if we take a trip back in time via web.archive.org you can see a lot has changed over the years and even from month-to-month. Even the job description of the site has changed as Amazon has added more products and services.
4. Evaluate the job description
You should re-evaluate your website’s job description every two years. You should do the same if you are adding functionality to the site to support a new program modality. My litmus test is “do we need to design a new template to do this or change the style sheet?” If the answer is yes, then we need to update the job description.
A high functioning and relevant website can remain a high-functioning part of your organization for a long time if you put small amounts of effort into keeping it relevant. Think of your website as a member of the team. Determine it’s job and evaluate the effectiveness against that job.
Here’s a preview of my new blog on this topic titled “Designing Your Last Website.”
If you’re considering a re-design start by first developing a job description for the website. (Did you download our free template?) Then score your current site’s ability to do each job from 1-10 (10 being best). Then take the average. If you’re website is below a 6, you might need a new one. I’m going to tell you why I think your next website should be your last website.