What's the Deal with Continuous Website Improvement?

Website, Strategy

Websites are one of the greatest inventions of all time, aren’t they? And yet, they’re also the bane of any webmaster’s existence. This is why most companies only update their website every two or three years; because the process of doing so takes three to six months – or longer. It’s expensive, stressful, and oftentimes results in a lackluster end product that you’re stuck with.Person typing on a laptopIf you’re feeling a little anxious about updating your website for improvements after reading the paragraph above, don’t fret. I have three magical words for you that’ll put your mind at ease. Are you ready? Growth Driven Design.

Growth Driven Design (GDD) is taking the world by storm as the newest approach to your website design, and it focuses on one thing: continuous improvement. It’s a value that Leighton Interactive holds dearly, and it's essentially like growth-hacking for your website – a process of identifying the most effective ways to grow your business through experimentation.

Bring More Than Website Updates to the Table

Okay, yes, you do need to make certain website updates, like updating team headshots or adding verbiage to a page. But those are necessary website updates that need to happen regardless of your website strategy; they’re just part of having a website. However, there’s more to updating your site and to improve it.

In order to maximize your website’s performance, you’ll want to consider using the data it provides – not just on day one of the launch, but every day following. Without factoring this in, your website is just like an online brochure; you’ll be throwing your darts at the wall hoping something will stick.

Do yourself a favor and back up website tweaks with data; it’ll improve your site’s effectiveness.

A Scientific Method Approach for Your Website

The keyword here is improvements. How can you improve something if you don’t know what you’re trying to improve?

Continuous website improvements is a scientific approach to website updates, focused on optimizing the website performance for conversions.

In an ideal world, this process would begin immediately after a new website has launched, but that’s not required. Backing up your website improvements with data for optimal website performance rids you and your team of arbitrary debates over what is and isn’t working. It’s hard to argue with the data, even if you feel like your next website idea will work.

So, what does this approach look like?

A look at Continuous Improvement in Action

Our sister company and client, Leighton Broadcasting, recently wanted to improve its navigation for optimal user flow. There are a few schools of thought when it comes to organizing website navigation:

  • Alphabetically (a logical approach)
  • Business Importance (a business-centric approach)
  • Most to Least Viewed (a user-centric approach)

We looked at heatmaps of the homepage navigation and noticed the Locations page was getting the most clicks, yet was lost in the middle of the navigation. This version of the navigation was ordered by business importance – meaning pages most important to the business were placed first.

However, as often is the case, what’s important to the business isn’t always what’s important to the users, as can be seen here. Most websites have Contact Us and blog links at the end of their navigation — but why? Who decided this was the best approach? Just because most websites do it doesn't make it the right decision for your website.

Continuous Website Improvments in Action: Before

When you look at the image above, the hotspots appear randomly. This indicates confusion on the users’ end, which results in poorer performance over time.

Here’s the breakdown of the hotspot click percentage in the screenshot:

  • Locations – 18.5%
  • Contact – 9.3%
  • Careers – 8.8%
  • About – 8.1%
  • Marketing Services – 5.2%
  • Community – 1.8%
  • Resources – 1.8%
  • Testimonials – 0.3%
  • Blog – 0.3%

Knowing that users want to visit the locations page more than anything else, we decided to rearrange the navigation from most to least viewed.

Continuous Website Improvements in Action: After

In this screenshot, we see a nice line from hot to cold. This is what a user-friendly navigation structure should look like.

Here’s that same page click breakdown again:

  • Locations – 21.2%
  • Contact - 8.2%
  • Careers – 8.8%
  • About – 5.8%
  • Marketing Services – 4.9%
  • Community – 2.8%
  • Resources – 1.7%
  • Testimonials – 0.1%
  • Blog – 1.74%

The clicks to the locations page increased by nearly 3 percent.

I know what you’re thinking. That’s all well and good, but every other percentage decreased. And that’s what we were going for. Why?

We arranged the navigation in a user-friendly manner. We solved for the user – not for what we wanted or what our client wanted. For what the user wanted. Always solve for the user in mind.

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Had it not been for continuous website improvements, this navigation would have remained as it was until the next redesign was budgeted for, and this client would have likely lost business because not as many users were viewing the locations page — a key page in their conversion funnel.

So, there you have it. Growth Driven Design helps you keep the user front and center with less time needed. No longer will you be under pressure to make all of the changes at once. GDD is cheaper and more efficient. And the numbers don’t lie. There are many way to apply this methodology to your website, alongside heatmap analysis. Check out this resource for a robust collection of some of those many tactics. 

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