• Ellen Cresswell

A website is not just for Christmas

Updated: May 21, 2020

I’m borrowing shamelessly from the UK’s Dog’s Trust. For more than 40 years, it’s had the slogan of “A dog is for life, not just for Christmas”. That phrase was designed to raise awareness of the ongoing care, responsibility and attention a gifted dog will need long after the Christmas decorations come down and aimed to reduce the number of dogs that were taken to shelters in the New Year period.

Similarly, a new digital product or website needs ongoing attention from the minute it goes live. That’s typically when the project team is celebrating a successful release – rightfully so – and rolling resources onto the next project. This often results in loss of knowledge about how the new digital asset operates, limited optimisation and potentially poor performance.

With this context, here are some of the things I’ve learned about ensuring a new digital product thrives after launch.

1. Define the measures of success for the new site/service

Irrespective of the goals for your new digital product, they must all be measurable. Make sure a full analytics implementation is part of the project so that in the days, months and years after launch you have full visibility on how it’s performing. That insight will enable you to make informed decisions about adjustments that will improve performance.

2. Start with the end in mind.

What resources and skillsets will your company need to support considerable online success? If you’ve launched a site that uses a content management system, you’ll need the capability to create, monitor, publish and optimise it. If your site has a sales function, you’ll need to monitor how the sales funnel performs and make adjustments as the analytics come through. You’ll likely need to consider resourcing for the following: bespoke landing pages, A/B testing, email campaigns, sales funnel optimisation, search engine optimisation, front-end development, content (copy, images, video and tools) and more. You’ll want to have some, if not all, of these capabilities into the project team before you transition to BAU to ensure these resources have the right knowledge about the digital product to run it once the project ends.

3. Don’t be afraid to try new things but fail quickly.

“Failing fast” is principle of Agile software development, with the emphasis on the ‘fast’ component of the phrase. This means trying new things but in a safe way, to test if the features will resonate with your users. One way to do that is through A/B testing, where a new feature is shown to a small percentage of users to understand if it’ll succeed. Alternatively, a new feature can be rolled out to all users, but only if there’s a plan to rollback or replace it with a more proven feature.

If you have a plan that covers all three of these components, you’ll be in a strong position for your new online site or product to be a success long after launch day.