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Quick Wins for Websites

Tuesday 11 January, 2011
Digital Strategy and Business,Marketing and Communications,Usability,Information Architecture,Social Media,Search Engines,Process and Methodology

Our own business plan includes the following thought: "Successful organisations with business based in the network economy show a propensity for action, as opposed to over extensive planning and analysis," and it goes on to describe a strategy of, "short term achievements in the context of a longer term vision".

A turtle with a rocket on his backA Long Term Strategy Can Include Quick Wins

While I'm the first to extol the virtues of a clear, fully defined (and simple) digital business strategy, that strategy doesn't have to be based on mighty leaps forward. It is likely to work better if it's constructed from a series a small, effective, easy to achieve goals. The approach doesn't necessarily have to follow a traditional waterfall model, either. Smaller jobs undertaken within the context of a broader vision can often be performed quite independently from each other, even concurrently.

For instance, I'm sometimes confused by the tendency for many organisations to define a long and complex list of requirements for their new website, then hold off on launching anything until all the requirements have been met. The idea of a "staged launch" would often make more sense. Whether or not the complex job of integrating the site with the organisation's customer relationship management system is finished, a much simpler version of the site can start collecting email subscriptions and product enquiries while the bigger job is being completed. Quick wins on the way to the larger goal.

We focused on some quick wins at DDSN in 2010. Rather than launching our updated brand image across all our websites and media in one fell swoop, we released a standalone microsite about our new hosting service when the the service was ready earlier the in year. Although we now have a small headache (a separately managed website that we perhaps should re-integrate into our main site that launched months later), we were able to do some good business in the early part of the year that we would otherwise have missed out on.

Iteration and Continual Improvement

When iteration and continual improvement are considered, the way quick wins can be built on top of each other to work towards larger goals becomes clearer. There is a good analogy to be drawn between these ideas and the agile software development methodology, the principles of which we adopt at DDSN.

Quick Wins for Website Projects

Some website development areas in which quick wins can often be achieved include:

  • Home page and main navigation refresh. E.g. the Goulburn-Murray Water home page was given a visual face lift during a CMS upgrade project, without changes being made to any other parts of the site.
  • Usability upgrades (including user testing) of key, discrete site functions such as order or service forms, the site home page, or product support areas. E.g. the Bush Heritage Australia e-donation form was re-designed in 2010 with a quick win in mind
  • Simple technology upgrades or additions, especially technologies that enhance your ability to produce useful communications or perform business transactions. E.g. online conference bookings were added to the HFESA website in 2010 to improve the bookings management process for the annual conference.
  • Website traffic growth / search engine marketing and Google Adwords campaigns.
  • E-communications - Email newsletters, SMS campaigns, and so on - Many organisations are doing so little in this area that a small effort can go a long way quickly.
  • Check your website analytics (too many people still don't do this), and make some changes to your site
  • Simple social media presences or campaigns - Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn

I'll explore some of the options for quick wins in each of these areas in more detail in future blog posts. In the meantime, do you have any thoughts or suggestions?

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