The ongoing process of running a website

A website project is a big undertaking no matter the size of your business it can involve allot of people both inside and  outside of your business and needs to be carefully managed to ensure the website is as effective as possible. One of the factors that define a successful website is the understanding that a website is not a simple project that has a end date but it is more an ongoing project that evolves and grows over time as your business and customers do. Second is to make sure that you have relevant content and best copywriter.

This means that sections of the site that are vital today may in a matter of months may become irrelevant, this is what is is important to constantly review your website and its strategy to ensure it is as effective now as the day it was built (if not more so!) but what do you need to look at? and how do you tell which areas are more / less popular?

Monitor website usage

By monitoring the visitors behaviour on your website you will be able to look at what areas of the site they are using and look at what you can do to improve these areas or implement additional features to attract them to other areas of the site you wish to push. Without knowing this information you are effectively flying blind hoping to second guess your visitors needs but with Google Analytics you are able to monitor exactly what your users are looking at and for how long meaning you can a) track the popularity of areas on the website and b) monitor the success of strategy put in place to attract visitors to different areas of the site.

Installing the tracking code on your website is free and easy to do: more on installing Google Analytics can be found here  a website developer will be able to assist you in adding the code if you are not comfortable installing it yourself – if your website is running on a popular CMS there is most likely a plugin available to help get your tracking installed (for example this plugin for Word Press)

With the tracking code in place you will be able to start looking at the numbers and make decisions on how to progress your website, for example:

  • Publish two blog posts on different subjects you would be able to see which attracted more readers and you could adapt your content strategy to include more on the popular topic which is likely to attract more visitors
  • Create two landing pages for the same product / service featuring different marketing messages and look at the conversion rate between the two pages to influence the next set of landing pages (repeating this process over and over will result in a very effective optimised landing page)
  • monitor the number of visitors to product pages on your site to see which ranges of products are more popular and increase your focus on these items – alternatively increase marketing of the other product ranges to increase awareness
  • place call to actions on different pages / different locations to test which attracts the most attention  / conversions
  • monitor where users leave your site to identify poor performing pages that could be losing you business (long forms, hidden P&P charges etc)
  • add additional information / images to products to see if it increases sales (the process may take longer but an increase in sales will be worth the effort!)

With the tracking information you will be able to constantly monitor the performance of your website, products and content and adjust accordingly to improve the website as a whole a process that will increase the number of visitors and potential customers.

All data collected is securely held by Google and is anonymous meaning individual users can not be identified preventing data protection and privacy issues.

Other areas to keep in mind when reviewing the website is the content strategy (learn more: What is Content Strategy? and why should I care?) as well as the design of the website itself – tweaking a strong design can extend the life of a website however it is important to remember that no website design will last forever and at some point you will need to look at a whole new design, but by looking after your current one with small regular changes you can extend the time and effectiveness of the website.

If you will be regularly updating the content on your website (which you should be) then a content management system is a must – even website developers make use of them to make our lives easier – for example this website has been built using WordPress a popular CMS. (Learn more about CMS: What is a Content Management System?)