How to increase the success of your digital projects
You might be surprised, but the average lifespan of a website is just under 3 years according to studies, and if your website is competing in a highly competitive market, this might even be less! If your organisation constantly needs to be on top to improve or redesign/rebuild its digital presence, this might be costly for your business if not well prepared and planned.
When it comes to building a new or rebuilding an existing website, there are a lot of considerations to take into account, from; your target audience, design, technology, SEO, mobile-friendliness, and many more. If you are looking at outsourcing all aspects of the new website build, the costs can add up. Usually, this might get outsourced to multiple digital agency partners (if one does not cover all aspects of a web build) which in turn may lead to scope creeping, due to projects not being properly defined, documented or controlled.
So, instead of going out to partners at the initial stage, there is a lot that can be done in-house to minimise the potential cost and prepare the project thoroughly to maximise the results.
So let’s have a look at what you can do to increase the success of your web design projects from day 1...
Prepare for your target audience
The initial stage when considering how often and why an organisation needs to do digital changes should be done after studying the targeted audience and how that audience behaves on your digital platforms. A targeted audience is a group of visitors most likely to engage with your digital platforms, often website’s promotions, products and services. The audience is usually based on location, age, income etc.
This part of the project can be managed or prepared in house by performing digital strategy workshops where you review the current website’s audience and its visitor’s behaviour. By performing regular Google Analytics checks and installing heatmaps to review the behaviour of a user, a lot of questions can be answered without the need of consulting external digital agencies.
When reviewing our clients Google Analytics data during the last few years and comparing the statistics to global trends, we have noticed that clients who opted not to focus on mobile design have suffered greatly. As you may already know, mobile visitors on the web have increased on average 140% and now consists of 52% of all website visitors. This is only one of many metrics that can be considered during the initial workshop and planning of the digital project ahead.
Creating SMART goals
After the target audience is set and understood, it is important to create SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, or Time-bound) goals for the new web build. These goals will later define the look and feel of the website but also be considered during the various phases. A few examples of SMART goals can be; increase in organic traffic, lower the bounce rate, lead conversions, increase blog engagement, decrease basket drop-off etc. Goals are specific to each organisation and each digital platform and what is a great goal for one organisation might not be good for another.
By performing the workshop with the help of heatmaps, organisations can gather a lot of information of how their website visitors are behaving on the website. With that information, you can create initial wireframes that will assist designers for the upcoming design phase. This can, for example, show that visitors are less likely to scroll down on pages, so it is important that Call to Action (CTA) buttons are located at the top, or that they follow the visitor around when scrolling. This can potentially increase the likelihood of conversions.
When analysing the digital traffic with the help of the various tools mentioned, organisations have a clear understanding of how their visitors are interacting so when external agencies provide designs, they can be reviewed before the site goes live which can potentially save a lot of unnecessary change requests.
Use existing templates
When goals have been set and wireframes created during the initial workshop; the web development should commence. Templates are usually the first thing to consider in the development phase. Templates are predesigned resources that shows the structure for the layout and displays features, often widgets or web parts on any website.
Templates do not necessarily need to be rebuilt every time a website needs a refresh but can instead be reused or repurposed to change the look and feel with minimal effort. If templates still need to be built, due to new features being implemented or new technologies emerging, it might be good to consider multiple use case scenarios for one template, as web parts can be placed anywhere on the template. This is a great way to minimise the number of templates that need rebuilding and help you get more from your web design budget.
Reduce your total website pages
By creating and planning a lot of pages at the initial launch for a website, the workload for developers, designers, content writers etc. increases. It’s important to focus on what’s actually needed for the rebuild, and use this time to get rid of the dead wood. Some clients opt to go live with only the main pages that generate traffic and leave the rest out for a second phase. This saves both time and budget but it also minimises risk.
Adopting a Growth-Driven Design (GDD) approach by tracking the initial launch and reviewing the statistics, heatmaps and user behaviour, you’ll learn what your visitors do on the website. Once this is clear it is easier to define how many pages and what content is needed and if optimisation of the current site is required. Additional pages can then be created by reusing existing templates which will save time and budget with the visitor in mind instead of focusing on what the organisation thinks the website visitor wants.
Prepare content ahead of schedule
During the website build, a lot of old content can be refreshed or updated internally with minimal effort. As with technology, Google searches and keywords change based on what is efficient and popular at present. If a lot of content is outdated, it won’t generate a lot of traffic to the site, which can impact the return on investment (ROI). Therefore, it is important to analyse what the current website traffic is generating to make sure that the correct content is transferred, but also review pages that are losing traffic or has a negative trend to try to optimise it or even remove it completely. This goes in hand with reducing the number of pages that are needed on the site.
By migrating the content yourself, not only does it reduce the potential cost of an agency charging for it, but it also provides additional training of using the CMS and potentially also spotting issues that can be resolved before the Go-Live process.
Staying ahead with your digital project
What might seem like a simple website build/rebuild at the outset might be deceiving. There are multiple ways of creating quick websites, but most organisations want to have customised webpages, integrations with third-party tools, unique design, optimised browser compatibility, the site to be SEO optimised, and potentially want content migration performed. This all takes additional time to develop and complete and will result in higher costs for the build. A crucial point that is often forgotten, is what we call the ‘unknowns’ during a project development phase. This can be modifications to integrations with third-party tools, changes in SEO best practices, updates to the selected CMS platform, new technology etc.
What the focus should be for any organisation before the digital project is to finalise the SMART goals, to figure out what drives traffic, what generates ROI, in order to create a launchpad that can constantly be optimised with minimal effort. This will enable the digital project to have a longevity that can be optimised, changed, updated dependant on the digital situation in the future.