The goal is always to strive toward a perfect first version of a website. There is often great stress in mapping out the initial specifications to get the requirements just right. In the evolution of a business, the site is often a big component that must change as the business adapts. I’m a fan of the phased approach (multiple steps or phases) to building a site or application, so there is time to consider how it will augment the way the business functions and how it should reach and interact with customers. I recommend taking some of the pressure off of that ‘perfect’ version 1.0 and realizing there is much to learn from your customers over time that can improve the site’s functionality.
Take Advantage of Great Tools
Tools such as Google Analytics (and a number of others) can be amazing resources to see where you are gaining traction or losing customers. For example, data as simple as which page is the most viewed or where users are clicking the most can tell you a lot about how the user is experiencing your content. In re-branding a website, a full audit can tell you what’s been working and what to hang on to, versus what should be discontinued.
Another great method is A-B testing. In AdWords, a small launch of two ads can gather data enough to show you a distinctive winner – which one had the most clicks? Best conversion? The winner may be a more worthy investment for a larger campaign. In the same way, we can try different approaches to layout and functionality. What devices do your users favor? Data-tracking tools can help you design with more purpose. As you collect data and get feedback from your users, you can adapt the site to have maximum impact.
Evolve With Your Business
Expect version 1.1 of the website to be a lot closer toward the goal. A website should not be static; rather, it should be fluid, moving with the business. In turn, work with your development team to continually improve your web presence.