A large percentage of businesses only make impactful improvements to their website once or less per year. Unfortunately, the set it and forget it strategy for utilizing a website in your business’s marketing is no longer going to cut it. There’s simply too much competition and too many marketers continuously working on optimizing their web presence in order to gain the advantage against their competitors. By neglecting your website for long periods of time, you risk falling behind and not achieving the potential value to your business that your website could provide.
In the 2017 State of GDD report, it was found that running GDD resulted in 16.9% more leads and 11.2% more revenue six months after launch.
Continuous improvement is the ongoing stage of the growth-driven website design process that follows after the launch pad is completed. It involves optimization of a website to achieve high-impact results based on real user data that has been collected since the site was launched. When companies invest in continuous optimization of their website, they will see a much larger increase in visitors, leads and overall revenue over time than those who don’t. In the 2017 State of GDD report, it was found that running GDD resulted in 16.9% more leads and 11.2% more revenue six months after launch.
Prior to developing action items for optimizing your website, you should set a quarterly meeting with the design team and stakeholders of the company. In the meeting, you will:
- Review your original website strategy document
- Review accomplishments from the previous quarter
- Discuss ideas and overall direction for the next quarter
Your team’s ideas can then be prioritized by which will achieve the highest impact and then broken down into multiple individual tasks to be executed monthly as smaller “sprint” cycles.
Early in the continuous improvement phase is a great time to run experiments. Experiments help a business learn about their users and how they can best interact with them. These learnings can then be incorporated into future sprints. At the end of each sprint cycle, each department should get together to share learnings, align on ideas and collaborate.
Running a sprint cycle
The Plan Step
In this step you will review your current direction, progress and set the sprint cycle’s focus. You will write the goals or “job to be done” your user wants to accomplish when on the site. For each goal, write questions to determine what is preventing your users from accomplishing their goal. One example might be “What is preventing organic website users, who land directly on the pricing page from requesting a quote?”
To determine possible solutions, both qualitative and quantitative research can be conducted as well as creating “job stories” for each of your user personas. A job story is framed in the following format:
“As [PERSONA/SEGMENT], when [SITUATION], I want to [MOTIVATION] so I can [OUTCOME].”
Filling out a job story for each persona can help reframe your point of view from the user’s perspective in order to better determine solutions towards optimizing underperforming parts of your website.
During a planning workshop, your team can then brainstorm and vote on solutions to prioritize and add to the wishlist. Prioritizing an update to the website is based on its potential impact, effort to implement and urgency.
Each action item to be implemented is then formed into a hypothesis statement using the following format:
“For [PERSONA] visiting the [PAGE], we believe changing [CURRENT ITEM] in a [PROPSED SOLTION] will [OUTCOME AND METRICS].”
Also make sure to back up this hypothesis with previous research and data and determine ways to be able to test and measure if the hypothesis is correct.
The Build Step
The build step of a sprint cycle involves a collaborative and focused period of time devoted to implementing the high-impact action items as quickly and effectively as possible. A build step is accomplished by completing these 7 steps:
- Deconstruct each action item
- Coordinate everyone’s schedules to work together
- Host daily stand-ups – daily, focused 15 minute meetings to review and discuss current sprint tasks
- Outline and set up experiments – experiments are conducted to test out bold, new ideas with the primary purpose of learning about your users.
- Test your results using quantitative and qualitative data.
- Quality assurance
The Learn Step
The learn step is where you will work to gain a deeper understanding of your users so you can make smarter future decisions and drive more value. Start by getting together with your team to reflect on the action items that were implemented and your team’s overall performance. Ask your team questions about what they learned about the user as well as the team’s performance so far. Some examples of user questions might be: “Was our hypothesis correct? Why or why not?”; “What might this teach us about the user?”; “Did different segments behave differently”; “What behavior was unexpected”; and “How might this impact future ideas or teams?” Some team oriented questions that could be asked are: “What were the biggest setbacks for our team this sprint cycle”; “How might we complete the same work in half the time?” or “How might we update our process or software to ensure future work is even better?”
The Transfer Step
The goal of the transfer step is to share learnings across departments in order to find opportunities to better align and improve the overall customer experience. This can be accomplished through company-wide meetings and internal documentation. Since the website has the potential to accomplish goals for all departments in the company, it is essential that all departments have the opportunity to come together to better achieve alignment with their goals and the customer experience.