When Is Your Website Finished?
How can you know when it’s perfect and ready to launch? Who should you listen to when it comes to fine-tuning your website? What should you do if someone doesn’t like it?
There’s one secret that answers all of these questions. It’s the single most important thing you can ever learn about website creation and management.
Let me give you a hint: Your website is never finished. It’s never perfect.
And whose advice should you heed on how your site can be improved? Friends and family? People internal to your organization? Consultants?
All of these people may offer valuable insights. But there’s only one group of people whose insights ultimately matter — your organic website visitors.
And how can you know what they think of your site? By installing, tracking, and analyzing website analytics.
I promise to reveal the secret, but it’s going to make more sense with more context. Keep walking with me.
Analytics track massive amounts of website visitor patterns and data and tell you how people are interacting with your site, where they’re spending time, where they’re losing interest and leaving, places where they’re experiencing friction, etc.
(Have you figured out the secret yet?)
Take a look at the analytics dashboard for the KGaps website:
I’ll point out just a few highlights to familiarize you with the process. Since launching the site on February 6th, we’ve had 487 visits, with 2,040 pages viewed, for a total of 4.19 pages per visit. On average, visitors spend five minutes and twenty-one seconds on the site.
Our bounce rate is 35.52%. A bounce occurs when someone hits your site, then “bounces” out without clicking through to another page. They either didn’t find your site relevant to their needs or they didn’t like it. Anything below a 30% bounce rate is awesome, 30-40% is excellent, 40-50% is okay, and you should be concerned about a bounce rate higher than 50%.
You’ll notice that we’ve had 77 goal conversions, which translates into a 15.81% conversion rate. A conversion represents any action taken on the part of your website visitors that gets them closer to engaging with your economic engine, or in other words, buying from you.
It could be a download that requires them to input their information into a form, thus getting them into your database. It could be a purchase. It could be a contact requesting more information.
Your conversion rate is the single most important element to track on your website. If your website is not converting casual visitors into engaged community members, and community members into buyers, your website isn’t doing its job. A good website converts 10-30% of visitors through some call to action.
Have you figured out the secret yet? It’s as easy as ABT.
The ABT Method
Here’s the secret: Always be testing. That’s the first and most important principle you must ingrain into your business culture and marketing efforts when it comes to managing your website.
Your website will never be finished. There’s no such thing as a perfect website. And the most important feedback to listen to regarding your website is the natural feedback you receive from your visitors, in the form of analytic data.
Have a 60% bounce rate? Change an element or two on your home page, then track it for another month. Have a 2% conversion rate? Offer a free e-book and see how much it rises. Are visitors consistently exiting your site from a particular page? Play with it and make it more effective.
There’s an entire science and industry, called Persuasion Architecture, behind how you can improve your site. There are infinite variables that can be considered, such as your website copy (text), colors, call to action buttons, where calls to action are placed, what to include in forms and what to exclude, etc. Subscribe to this blog and read this article to get started.
But underlying all of that vast information is one key principle: Always be testing.
Just accept the fact that your website isn’t good enough. It never will be. But the real question is whether or not it’s better than the last version. Is it improving? Is your bounce rate dropping and your conversion rate rising?
Fine-tuning your website is a process, not a destination. Build the best website that you can. Get as much feedback as possible before launching. But ultimately, it is your visitors that have the final say on whether or not your site is effective. Let them tell you what they like and don’t like about the site by paying attention to your analytics.
Then, keep changing elements and testing to improve your site continually.
Stephen Palmer is a marketing consultant and persuasive writer with KGaps Consulting, a co-founder of The Center for Social Leadership, and the New York Times best-selling co-author of Killing Sacred Cows: Overcoming the Financial Myths that are Destroying Your Prosperity.
Stephen resides in Round Rock, Texas with his gorgeous wife Karina, awesome son Alex, and princess daughters Libby, Avery, and Laela. Stephen and Karina blog about their magical life on Palmer Journeys.