The problem with most web strategies, whether you’re designing a new site from scratch or you’re in charge of a website overhaul, is that they’re often viewed as “once and done” projects.
This creates a never-ending cycle of website (re)launch > website becomes stale > website (re)launch, and with every fresh iteration of a new design, the motivation is on to make sure it thrives.
But without a robust web strategy, the motivation wears off quickly and you’re left in the same cycle of launch and neglect. Sure, you may update the site from time to time with new products or recent news, but by not having a strategy, the site will continue to languish and be stuck in this never-ending cycle.
A web strategy is, in essence, a road map that takes you from where you are, to where you want to be. More than a simple to-do list or checklist, it’s more of a never-ending series of steps that allow for changes and course-corrections as technology advances. Beyond the technological aspect, there’s also the undercurrent of customer behavior — how are the changes in the world around us affecting how we shop, browse and spend time online? The best web strategy will encompass all of that and more.
So how do you go about creating a web strategy that will not only grow your website but break that cycle? Follow these six steps to develop a web strategy that works!
- Establish Attainable Goals
- Create a Plan for Ongoing Maintenance
- Be Relentless about Improvements
- Budget for Uncertainties
- Test, Track and Measure
- Analyze the Data, but Don’t Forget the Human Side
Let’s dive right in and look at each part of building a web strategy in detail:
1. Establish Attainable Goals
The very first step is one of the most important. Writing down attainable goals actually serves two purposes in regards to web strategy: it puts your ideas into a concrete form and can actually shape how you go about designing or redesigning various website elements in order to better attain said goals.
Whether you’re creating an information site, a blog or a more visually-oriented space, having goals that align with your site will allow you to pour your creative and developmental talents into designing and incorporating facets of an improved user experience that fit those goals — creating a win-win for you and your site.
2. Create a Plan for Ongoing Maintenance
Many websites grow stale simply because they have no plans for ongoing maintenance. But things do change over time — technology and trends march on, and any website which ignores this does so at its peril. Custom WordPress development may need to be done. Plugins or services need to be updated, new items or services added, and so on.
Each one of these doesn’t necessarily mean a complete overhaul, but oftentimes, businesses believe a complete overhaul is needed because they want to integrate so many new things at one time, rather than integrating them over time as they become available and as it becomes a smart decision to do so.
3. Be Relentless about Improvements
Not quite as overarching as maintenance, improvements feature prominently in any web strategy. You may be getting subscribers and attracting customers on a decent level at a reasonable price, but what if you could do better? Improvements can mean anything that can have a discernible effect on your conversion rate — from professional web design to removing a form field (that people weren’t filling in anyway), or even adding a live chat feature.
Creating these hypotheses and making these improvements over time also shows you what’s working and what isn’t with your target audience, as well as what’s barely budging the needle. You’ll need this information as your website and all the marketing initiatives and campaigns that surround it, continue to grow.
4. Budget for Uncertainties
When it comes to web strategy, it’s not a matter of if it happens, but when. By setting aside a small portion of your budget to deal with these uncertainties as they crop up, you’ll not only avoid the inevitable slip into full-on Crisis Mode, but you’ll also be able to weather the storm in case there are emergencies that need to be dealt with — even if they’re out of your control.
5. Test, Track and Measure
This part of the strategy circles back to being relentless about improvements. By testing, tracking and measuring the impact of those improvements, you can share data with confidence that determines how customers and prospects are interacting with your website.
This allows you to not only make more informed decisions as to the direction of your site, but it also allows you to identify any bottlenecks that could be affecting the user experience and customer journey in ways that you may not have anticipated. These could be anything from server issues to a cumbersome checkout process — things you’ll never know about if you don’t test, track and measure.
6. Analyze the Data, but Don’t Forget the Human Side
Of course, once you start analyzing the data, it’s easy to get caught up in relying entirely on things like statistical significance before you implement any changes. But getting too attached to the data can also be a deterrent to your strategy. Data takes time to come in, and having enough of it to be able to forecast or predict winning changes can take even longer.
There’s also an innately human side to every action and transaction taken on your site, and it’s good not to forget that in your quest to power your site with more data-driven decisions. From the responsiveness of customer service to the courtesy of live chat and phone service, all too often, website strategy gets too tangled up in the “web” part without much attention being paid to the “service” part.
But by following these steps in developing your web strategy, not only will you be miles ahead of your competitors, but you’ll also be creating a customer experience that’s designed to delight and amaze, encouraging more repeat visits without the downtime and investment of a complete website overhaul.