If you’ve ever gone to the grocery store without a list, you know the dangers of making decisions without a roadmap. Generally, you wind up buying yet another can of green beans to add to your dusty canned goods collection while forgetting to pick up the one thing that you really needed. You make an impulse buy that undermines your diet, or you go way over your monthly grocery budget, using money that might have gone to something even more valuable, like a vacation.
A smart shopper takes time to look in the fridge and in the cabinets to get a sense of what’s running out before going to the store. They make some hard decisions about supply and demand, questioning, for example, whether anyone is ever going to eat all those canned green beans. They consider what they’ve budgeted for and what their dietary needs are.
Know what you need before you get started
Before building or redesigning a brand website, it’s a good idea to run a similar assessment of what you already have in place. You might ask questions like:
- Where are most of my visitors coming from now?
- What’s actually getting clicked on?
- Which pages are people looking at?
- How long are they staying on the page?
By starting with the right questions during the discovery process, you’ll end up with a website that meets all of your clients’ needs without wasting money on unnecessary expenses. Instead of a wholesale rebuild, you may find that there are some elements of your website that are working exceptionally well without any changes. And if it ain’t broke, why not spend that part of your budget on something that will have more of an impact?
Measuring effectiveness with quantitative data
The measure of your website’s effectiveness depends on what your objectives were when you built it. If your goal was to increase your site’s traffic by 10% each month, you can measure your site’s effectiveness by looking at monthly page views. If your goal was to increase brand awareness in southern Texas, you can use geolocation data to measure effectiveness.
Other measurable data to assess during discovery would be:
- Customer interactions on the site
- Number of unique users each month
- Bounce rates
Measuring effectiveness with qualitative data
If you’re going to the grocery store on behalf of your family or roommates, you probably ask them if there’s anything particular they’d like. You may ask their opinion on that new frozen pizza that you tried out last week, or you might ask why no one is eating those green beans.
This is qualitative data, and it’s every bit as important to effective web design as “hard data.” Getting feedback from buyers and prospects on what’s working on your website and what could be improved will give you some ideas of how to act on the quantitative data.
If several customers tell you that your site loads too slowly or that they wish you showed your rates somewhere, you may have a better understanding of how to lower bounce rates. If they tell you that your site was the very first one that came up when they searched for a particular product or service, your stellar web traffic performance will make more sense.
Through the discovery process, designers help business owners pinpoint exactly what is and isn’t working on a website. Taking the time early on to uncover this data not only saves time and money, but it also improves the odds that your new website will be fine-tuned to meet your needs and the needs of your clients.