The last installment of our Growth-Driven Design blog series focused on strategy development. To recap, quickly, during the strategy phase you set performance goals, develop persona profiles, chart customer journeys and leverage your existing site’s analytics and user research. In doing so, the guesswork is removed from the equation—establishing in its place a strong understanding of your business goals and website users. With the strategy phase complete, it is now time to begin the Launch Pad phase.
The Launch Pad Website
While the Launch Pad website operates as a fully functioning website and looks and performs better than your current site, it’s not a final product. The Launch Pad is comprised of the essential components necessary to help your visitors understand your business and activate them to seek more information. As they interact with your website, you’ll be able to collect behavioral data and feedback from your users. This data provides invaluable insights into user behavior after launch and can then be leveraged to help you make more informed decisions on which features make the most sense to incorporate into the site in the next continuous improvement cycle.
Although the Launch Pad won’t include every bell and whistle you initially envisioned, it will enable you to:
- Launch your website in nearly half the time of a traditional website build
- Lower upfront time and cost commitments in favor of spreading it out over time
- Balance growth efforts and reduce risk
- Achieve quicker time-to-value and ROI
- Provide data-driven insights into what pages and functionality to incorporate into the site next and how to prioritize adding them.
For some the idea of a Launch Pad website is uncomfortable. You are building a new website, and the expectation is that it will be bigger and better than your current site—and it will, just not right out of the gate. To get comfortable here, you must accept the fact that you do not fully understand everything about your site visitors or how they will interact with your website. Recognizing this truth makes it clear why you shouldn’t immediately plan for and build out every conceivable aspect of your website. It just doesn’t make sense to spend time building pages and developing site functionality when it’s unclear whether it will be useful to your prospects. Remember, the goal of the Launch Pad is to develop and launch a fully functioning website that looks and performs better than the one you currently have, but in a fraction of the time it takes to launch a traditional website.
The 80/20 Rule
The focus of your Launch Pad site should be on the 20 percent of the impact items (e.g., pages, functionality, design elements, features, marketing assets tools) that will yield 80 percent of the highest impact and value to your website visitors. To help determine and prioritize which items to include, gather your team and review the functionality wish list developed during the strategy phase and start segmenting the list into high-impact, medium, and low-impact value items. Then, looking only at the high-impact action items, further filter the list by asking the question:
“Is this action item a Must Have or a Nice to Have”?
Take the items you designated as “nice to have” and leave them off to the side. Now, focusing only on the “must haves” items, evaluate them further by answering the question, “Is this absolutely necessary for the initial Launch Pad site, or could it be added to the launch pad in one to three months down the road?” Whatever is left should be included in the Launch Pad.
To help evaluate which pages are “must haves,” use website analytics to determine what your top pages are, which pages provide the highest conversion rates and where users are spending the most time on your site. Heatmapping software (e.g., CrazyEgg and HotJar) is another valuable analytical tool to help determine which pages to include in the Launch Pad. It will provide a visual representation of user click, tap and scroll data and is a vital tool for improving user experience (UX), maximizing conversion rates and keeping site visitors on the right track.
With the Launch Pad pages determined, it is time to put together page plans that outline the content flow for each key page. Your content should:
- Take user needs as well as SEO objectives into consideration
- Align with the goals you set during the strategy phase
- Focus on the personas you specified
- Drive the highest impact and value
A great way to do this is by creating hypothesis statements for each page. Here’s an example:
For [Business Owners] visiting the [Website Design and Development web page],
we believe adding an [e-book] on [Growth Driven Design] will [boost lead conversions by 10 percent].
We believe this to be true because [of the meaningful traffic driven to the website design
and development web page from our e-newsletter/blog articles].
Additional steps in the page planning process include:
- Coding and development
- Inbound marketing strategy
- Message development and page layout
- Page design
- Site architecture
- User experience (UX)
Since not every page of the Launch Pad will be initially focused on driving the highest impact and value, you will want to revisit SEO, update any images to match the new site design and edit/polish the rest of your content before migrating into your new website.
Quality Assurance and Testing
If the site doesn’t work, it won’t convert. The quality assurance and site testing stage is an essential part of your overall website strategy. A website not adequately tested for performance optimization will see high user abandonment rates and poor search engine rankings.
Below is a checklist of items that should be tested and reviewed before the launch of your Launch Pad.
- Address all 404 and 301 redirect errors
- Check browser and responsive compatibility on all relevant web browsers
- Check for broken external and internal links
- Check for missing alt attributes
- Confirm all video and audio files are working
- Confirm site submission to all search engines
- Format errors in robots.txt
- Check HTTPS protection/security issues
- Review of all forms to ensure they are working
- Review site for low text-HTML ratio
- Review site for multiple or missing H1 and H2 headings
- Review site for pages with low word count
- Review site on all devices (i.e., laptop, desktop, iPad, smartphones, etc.)
- Run spell-checking software
- Test for missing or duplicate meta descriptions and title tags
- Test page load speeds
- Don’t wait to get every single detail 100 percent squared away
- Resist the temptation to guess/assume what users want
- Create a minimum viable website in the quickest amount of time
You will reduce risk and…
- Launch on-time and on-budget
- Achieve faster time to value
- Validate assumptions
- Save budget for optimization
Watch for our upcoming e-book on Growth-Driven Design.
Interested in learning more about the Growth-Driven Design process? Skoda Minotti Strategic Marketing is a Growth-Driven Design Agency Certified, and we can help you determine how this approach might improve your next website design project. To start the conversation, contact Jonathan Ebenstein at 440-449-6800 or fill out our contact form here.