So…You’re Going to Build a Website. Here’s What You Need to Know:
Your company’s website is its front window and door to the world. It’s where customers and prospects learn about your company and its products and services. It’s an important channel for engaging people and building relationships with them and a vital part of your digital experience.
Because so many people do their research online before communicating with a company your website is critical to being part of the decision-making process. This makes your website an integral part of many aspects of the business from customer support to ecommerce and sales.
Updating your website takes time and resources, which can be significant depending on the size and complexity of your business needs, It’s important to look at your website updates as a capital investment the same as you would a new hire, building, or equipment—measuring the return on your investment in total and the time to return.
In this blog series, you’ll be provided with a process that you can use in an agile method to get the most from your company’s digital window. Each stage of the process can be done in one-week sprints, and some can be done in parallel. This process starts with laying the foundation of what the site needs to do and why.
Making decisions should never be done on an island. Engaging the right people (your stakeholders) early and often is critical to making the best decision possible—as fast as possible with the best information available. This is also the first critical step in ensuring you have the right internal buy-in to create the best business case for approval by the executive team.
Step 1: The Stakeholder Map
Outline each aspect of the business that your website touches (support, marketing, commerce, etc.,) in your user’s journey. This user journey will be used to ensure you have all of the right stakeholders involved.
Once you have all of the touchpoints from the user journey, identify the leaders for each aspect of the business that the site touches in the user journey. In larger organizations, it’s important to have them designate the people that will be an active part of the ongoing SCRUM management. The leader will be given reports and asked for feedback but will not have the time for the level of detail needed for a successful SCRUM process.
Don’t forget the customers and visitors. Including customer and visitor insights is critical to view the needs from both sides of the journey: what your company needs and what your customers and visitors want.
Step 2: Knowledge Transfer
Google Design Sprints are great ways to capture information, however, they can often be difficult to coordinate in large companies with a global team. With team members spread in multiple offices, the best approach is a combination of forms. You’ll find some listed below by stage of the research process. You’ll also want to conduct interviews where you can ask questions to each member of the team to get their feedback on the journey and challenges.
The more important reason for individual interviews is that a marketing associate that spends all of their time in the data and tools will have very different insights than a VP of marketing. You need the VP for direction and the associate for execution as you will get all of the more granular details important to product performance from the associate.
Here is the information you need with how-tos on obtaining and organizing it with a global team:
Personas. Build personas from more detailed user journeys provided by stakeholders. To do this remotely, I use Google Forms and Survey Monkey depending on the branching needs of the surveys. A form would include fields such as:
Visitor Type. Create a drop-down menu with choices such as customer, visitor, and returning visitor.
Came In Through. In this drop-down, you would include SEO, email campaign, direct, and other.
User Goal. Create guided fields such as support, more information, drip campaign
Company Goal for the User. Create guided fields such as lead gen, chatbot support resolution.
Tasks. Capture the tasks the site needs to perform for each stakeholder on a daily basis. This includes communicating with current customers, lead gen for marketing campaigns or displaying updated product titles.
Has or will anything change regarding the tasks the site needs to perform or the way they need to be performed? Customer support and lead gen are two examples where standard forms may have been used, but the company wants to move to a partially automated chatbot.
Capture where success and failure left a trail in the stakeholder day to day activities. The goal here is to extract as much quantifiable information as possible that can be used for measuring the ROI of a product or feature against the current and target KPI. This is done in two parts, forms, and interviews.
- Interviews are used to understand when the stakeholder had moments of delight and frustration on a specific page, executing a specific task or using an existing tool.
- Forms are used to identify what tools and tactics performed best, such as, a gated whitepaper had a 12% conversion rate. Make sure to capture the KPI associated with the tool or tactic that performed well or poorly. (Sample KPIs include time to resolution in customer support, reduced cart abandonment, form completion)
Identifying the team objectives is critical to planning for the site. This gives you insight into what the website needs to do for the people in the company to succeed in meeting their goals.
Where do they want to be in 30 days, six months and one year?
- What goals would they like to hit (KPIs)?
- What tasks would they like to automate?
- What things would they like to be able to do? (gate video content, A/B test marketing campaigns, eliminate live training sessions)
Where do they need to be in 30 days, six months and one year?
These will align with your “want to be” questions with one additional component. Any licenses, agreements, or technical requirements that impact timing. There are often previous agreements or support changes for a platform that are expiring. Keeping an eye on how these impact development decisions is critical to avoid 11th hour “oh no” moments.
I use Google Sheets for data review that require other eyes. It’s a great collaboration tool to avoid version control issues.
Break down the tasks and goals the site needs to deliver by department and function analyzing goals against tasks.
- % of the total customer support that the site should handle (goals vs. % handled today)
- % reduction in shopping cart abandonment handled by exit offers (goals vs. % handled today)
- % of lead conversion from gated content the site should achieve (goals vs. % handled today)
With this process, you now have a team set up for ongoing knowledge transfer, a list of the tools they use and tasks they perform related to quantifiable goals (KPIs), and other looming deadlines that will impact the security, cost or performance of your website.
The next step and post in this series will guide you through how to use this data to create clear specifications for budgeting resources—people and capital.