Many small business owners don’t realize the significance and high profitability of their websites. It’s for this reason they tend to cut corners and build websites using low cost “easy to use” site builders such as Wix, SquareSpace and “Premium” WordPress themes.
I can’t say I blame anyone for wanting to save money on their website because it’s the reason I got into Web Development in the first place. However, business owners often fail (miserably) to maximize the real potential of their website and significantly increase their bottom line. A website is an investment and if built correctly WILL become vital to reaching new and repeat customers.
I realize it’s relatively hard for many startups and small businesses to spend the needed capital to hire a reputable developer/firm to design and build a conversion driven website. Knowing this, I developed a new (more affordable, yet profitable) way to create websites. I call it, the Lean Approach to Web Development.
By applying the basic principles I learned from the book, The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, I was able to simplify the web development process and build/publish websites for less money up front while gradually increasing the total return on investment (ROI).
The basic idea behind the lean approach is to eliminate extensive research, establish primary goals, build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), measure the website’s effectiveness, make adjustments and repeat.
Identify & Establish Main Goal
If your business is a hair salon, your primary goal may be to convert website visitors into new customers via way of booking an appointment or a free offer to get them into the door. With this established goal in mind, we focus our primary efforts on this aim and design the layout simple and definite enough to entice visitors to book appointments online and take advantage of the free offers.
After we established the primary goal and designed a clear and simple layout, we then launch the “Minimum Viable Website” (MVW). (You like how I did that?) Starting with a quick MVW will help us establish relationships with search engines, learn about your users (not made up personifications) faster and via collecting data.
More often than not, web firms spend countless hours conducting research on how they believe a user will behave on their website and is a waste of time (my opinion).
I’ve worked for agencies where we conducted months of research only to find that a new technology changed users behavior, or a new Google algorithm changed the ranking structure. Launching an MVW will give you the most accurate data in less time (and costs much less).
Measure Data (Analytics)
After the launch, I install custom tracking codes to collect data from each key performance indicator (KPI) as it relates to the primary goal. We’ll establish a target conversion rate (how many visitors complete a goal) by using data from the industry’s historical average as a point of reference.
After a predetermined set of time, we’ll look at the primary goal’s conversion rate and discuss ways we can improve the conversion rate and design for proper adjustments.
Make Adjustments & Repeat
Based on your website’s data, make any change that will help increase your conversion rate. If you’re unsure how to do this, any UI developer skilled in Google Analytics should know how to read and interpret these reports to make educated suggestions.
During the adjustment stage, it’s also a good time to introduce secondary goals and repeat the process. Your website should never stop growing, adjusting and repeating. Just remember to keep clutter to a minimum and add new goals to your site ONLY (yes, I’m shouting) if they make sense to your business objectives.
Every website and business are different so that each stage can take a different amount of time and budget restrictions will more often than not come into play. To launch your website and keep initial costs low to start, consider using this lean approach to building your site. Be sure to research web developer, don’t believe “too good to be true” promises and make sure they have advanced knowledge of Google Analytics and search engine optimization (SEO). If you’re looking for a web developer, I know a good one! 😉