Congratulations, your new website is live! Now what?
By Estee Hall - September 3, 2020
Set off the fireworks! You've gone live with your new website, after weeks (or months?) of hard work. You've sent out marketing emails and posted to social about the redesign, and your team and customers love the new experience.
Or at least, you think so.
But do you know for sure? Are you looking at the user behaviour data to figure out whether it's easy to navigate and use? Are you mapping the user flow and determining if visitors are browsing according to your intended flow?
And if it's not going according to plan, what are you going to do to change it?
My suggestion? Keep optimising your website based on your user data. We call it Continuous Improvement or, as it's known in the HubSpot community, Growth-Driven Design (GDD).
What are the benefits of Continuously Improving a website?
Well, the first is pretty obvious: improvement. You'll be making changes to your website based on data, which will improve your website experience and performance. But over and above that, you're also extending the return on your investment. Companies invest both time and money into a redesign, just to let the website stagnate and age, before diving into a new website redesign 2 to 3 years later.
By making continuous changes, your website adapts to user behaviour and expectations, extending the lifetime value of your site. Who wouldn't want to experience less frequent website redesigns, am I right?
But you just launched your new website, so I'm not going to go into details on the "launchpad site" stage. You don't need to implement the entire GDD methodology.
Instead, we'll be diving into the final stage: continuous improvement of your current website.
1. Gather data
You need to gather factual data before you make any changes to your website. Start with your top 3 high-traffic pages (this will likely include your home page) and add a heatmap and user recordings tool (like Hotjar) to them. Make sure your CMS or site analytics tool (e.g. Google Analytics) is gathering accurate data by excluding your office and team's home IP addresses.
Set up custom events in your analytics tools (HubSpot, Hotjar and Google Analytics offers this functionality), following the user flow you intended when you mapped out your website sitemap. From the homepage, where did you want them to go? And after that? Your analytics tool will be able to identify if visitors are following these flows, or if not, where they deviate.
Give your analytics tools about two weeks to gather enough data for accurate analysis.
2. Analyse and understand the data
Now comes the fun part. Use your analytics tool to have a look at what your visitors are doing. Are they entering or exiting your site from a specific page? What's your best source of leads? Is the bounce rate of any page higher than average? Are they following the user flow you've set up? If not, why? Get into the nitty-gritty details by following the data.
Also, explore your heatmaps and recordings. Scroll heatmaps help you identify which parts of your pages visitors see by showing you how far they scroll down. Click heatmaps show you where your visitors are clicking on each page, and you can identify if your calls-to-actions are working. But probably the most insightful is the move heatmaps. They highlight how your visitors move their cursors on your website, helping you identify where their attention is drawn.
User recordings are playbacks of an actual visitor's behaviour on your site. You're able to see where they moved their cursor, where they clicked, which pages they visited. Their entire journey is recorded for you to analyse, helping you identify usability issues.
Analyse all of the data for the three pages you are focusing on, identify the focus metrics you want to improve and document your findings.
3. Draw conclusions
Now we get a bit hypothetical. Based on the data you uncovered, what are the reasons for your visitors' behaviour? Or at least, what do you think is? How can you change it?
E.g., you might have a CTA on a page with a high exit-rate, but no-one is even scrolling down to see it, let alone click on it. Why do you think visitors are not clicking on the CTA, but rather exiting your website entirely? Likely, it's because your CTA is too far down on your page, no-one sees it, and no-one is aware that the journey continues.
Moving your CTA to above-the-fold could potentially change this.
4. Test your hypotheses
Implement the changes that you recommended in the previous step, but don't just set and forget. You still need to test whether it makes a difference before moving on. Make the change and monitor the data. If you see the change in behaviour that you expected, then great! Success! You can move on to your next hypothesis. If not, go back to step 2 until you've implemented an optimisation that improves the user experience and performance of the page.
In the above example, you'd check if the CTA is being clicked on, now that visitors can see it when they land on the page. But it's not working!
Go back and analyse the data. From where are the visitors coming to this page? Are they getting precisely what they expected on this page? Is the page speed up to standard? Is the CTA highly noticeable on the page? Figure it out based on your data, and make the recommended changes.
Remember to consider split testing (A/B testing or multivariate testing) your changes to determine whether it was the optimisations that caused the change, or whether it was chance.
5. Rinse and repeat
Yes, repeat. And again, and again. It is, after all, a Continuous improvement cycle. Keep implementing website updates until you have nothing more to optimise!
As mentioned, this is only one stage in the GDD lifecycle. Check out our Guide to GDD to learn more about the methodology and process.
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