Learn from our experience
Many clients spend months polishing and perfecting their website before publishing it. Meanwhile their old website becomes more out-dated, and the new site and customers suffer for it. Their intentions are somewhat understandable:
We see clients make these mistakes. It is important we share these learnings with you to prevent you from falling into the same traps.
- They want to make it perfect
- They’re concerned they won’t receive support after it is live, or have to pay for help
- They see the website as a one off project. Once it is complete they don’t expect to touch it again for another 3 years. It needs to be 100% complete
1. Launch early - Get customer feedback
Many people don’t understand that to make a perfect website, it has to be put in front of the public. Only then can you begin measuring results and refining. The best people to tell you what your customers need from your website, are the customers themselves.
After going live you receive a lot of data and user feedback which you can use to plan further optimisation. Who knows what opportunities this might present your business? The alternative means your valuable content is hidden away on development servers, where no one can find it. The design is quickly going out of date.
Benefits of launching as soon as possible
Your customers and prospects experience a more professional, accurate and up to date representation of your business sooner
- Build your search engine ranking sooner. The sooner content is published the sooner Google will discover and index it
- Obtain key learnings from your customers to direct and prioritise ongoing development and improvements to the site
- Save hosting costs of two websites. Close your old website sooner
- Get a return on your investment sooner. Remember your payment plan is not tied to the progress of your website. By launching your website early your new website is working before your payment is complete
- Avoid “shocking” the search engines and your users by releasing small changes over time.
- Reduce the risk that large changes might have on your results. Regular small changes are easier to measure and understand the effect on your results. Keep positive changes and roll back negative ones.
- Less risk of people leaving partway through your project and having to start from scratch with someone new
2. The best approach
Over 15 years experience building websites we have learned the approach that maximises success:
- Appoint a single point of contact: a dedicated customer representative that can make the decisions in a timely fashion
- Break the project down into a list of features, things that need to be done.
- Prioritise the list of features. Focus on the key pages that matter most. Prioritise, based on your website objectives and real customer data from metrics and feedback to prioritise your time and investment
- Decide on the minimum amount of features that would make your website better than what you have already. Where is that line? If you don’t currently have a website, almost anything is sufficient. A homepage with your contact details would be a huge step up from nothing at all.
- Aim to hit this as quickly as possible and launch - Set a deadline and aim for this
- Launch an initial version of the site
- Set a regular budget of your time and/or Zeald time to improve the website and your online marketing
- Measure and gather customer data - Google Analytics, split testing, Google Adwords, Heat mapping...
- Continually refine and improve the website once it is available to the public by working through the list of remaining features.
3. Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
A best-practice concept used by startups, entrepreneurs and successful businesses to focus on what’s most important. This helps avoid over complicating and over polishing what they produce, and deliver great products quickly to market.
For websites, we recommend an MVP that improves on what you have now.
If you don't have a website - a homepage and a contact us page is more than sufficient
Redesigning an existing website? - Apply a new design on top of the existing content
4. What are YOUR minimum requirements to go live?
Sometimes clients do not agree with our recommendations for what MVP should look like. This is due to the misconception that people expect to launch a finished product, complete with highly polished design, snazzy features, all new content and structure.
Our recommended MVP line is based on the success and fails we have observed through our experience delivering thousands of websites over the years. Before we can move forward in developing a successful website, this minimum viable product must be agreed on, and a full list of features developed.
Is my Feature MVP?
- Is it on my current website?
- Does it directly affect my primary website objective?
- Is it vital for my end user to be able to convert? (Convert means to reach the enquiry form or purchase an item)
- A need or a want?
What is not MVP?
- Having perfect images. If you haven't found the right image yet, no need to worry, it can be updated on the live site once you do
- Adding all your new product range. If it’s not on the current site then it can be added after going live. Focus on the key products first, the ones that are most popular and make you the most money. This goes for content as well
- When customisations are involved, there may be customisations that can be completed after going live through a rollout/phased approach
- Website Fads. Remember that time everyone wore leg warmers because it was the 'in' thing? Well, the same goes for websites. Zeald looks to create a clear conversion pathways for your customers which may mean that the latest website trend is not the best for you
- Website envy. It is great to keep your finger on the pulse within your market but your competitors website has a different target market, value proposition. How do you know your competitors website is working? Keep focused on your goal
- Accept credit cards - Just use direct credit and purchase order to begin with
- Exact delivery calculations - Work out a flat rate.
5. Keep focused and aim to hit MVP
We see many clients forget this mission and drift away from the plan and work on features outside the MVP. It is important that you keep your list handy. Check each item off as you go. Every time you consider adding a new feature to your MVP ask yourself:
- How will this help me achieve my objective?
- Do I have real customer data to support this, or is it just an opinion or assumption?
- Is it really MVP?
It’s your job to remain focused on MVP and get your project live. We will try to follow you up and remind you, but at the end of the day, this is your decision and your choice. We will avoid draining your budget unnecessarily with follow ups.
6. Will I get support after launch?
We provide a help desk 9-5 weekdays at any stage. Trained Support specialists are there to help you and your team to load and refine the website yourself.
We recommend that you launch at the beginning of the week so that you have specialists handy to help you test, diagnose and implement changes for you quickly
If you have purchased content loading services from Zeald your marketing specialist will work with you to continue loading and refining your website after it has been launched. If you run out of budget you can always purchase more or choose to do it yourself.
7. What if I am not happy with the display of the website?
The point is that when we go live, it will still be better than what customers are seeing at the moment. The benefit is, that you are now given the opportunity to tune and refine it, based on real user feedback. This is how websites really achieve success.
- Yes, when the website goes live it may not be perfect
- Yes it may have some display issues
- Yes, some of the content may be the same as what you already have
This message can be difficult and a challenge to deliver but it is important for the success of a website project. We have delivered many thousands of websites over the many years we have been in business.
After this explanation of the agile method and our definition of MVP, the benefits should be clear. It simply is not possible to deliver a 100% complete, successful website in one go. It takes careful planning, analysing and tuning in order for your website to grow.
There is a harsh truth when it comes to website development. It is never finished. There is no end product, no finish line. A truly successful website will continue to evolve with your company.
Learn from our experience
- Launch early - Get customer feedback
- The best approach
- Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
- What are YOUR minimum requirements to go live?
- Keep focused and aim to hit MVP
- Will I get support after launch?
- What if I am not happy with the display of the website?