This article was first published on October 12, 2010, at The Online Marketing Mix.
The amount of energy and determination to get even a simple website up and running is quite extraordinary. It can be a draining exercise, but usually worth the result as you stand back and look at the results.
But launching a website is just the beginning.
In my last post on theonlinemarketingmix.co.uk I talked about web design from a holistic perspective. Taken to its logical conclusion, a website built holistically should be perfect. But the Internet is simply a reflection of ourselves, and as we are not perfect, so to the things that we create are not perfect.
Once your website is launched you should immediately initiate a strategy with the aim of continually improving your website. The Japanese have a philosophy of continuous improvment, or ‘Kaizen’.
Kaizen, for my money, is simply an extension of the holistic thought process. If your website stands stagnant, but your business and the industry you work in moves on, then pretty soon your website will be out of balance with the rest of your marketing efforts and a negative influence upon the buying decisions of your customers.
If you are always thinking holistically, you will recognise the need for kaizen.
The continual improvement of your website should normally take the form of discreet steps or tweaks rather than wholesale chopping and changing of the work you’ve just put in to build your site. Think evolution rather than revolution.
As with any strategy, you need to gather information before plotting a course of action, so you will need data about your website. Who uses it? What pages do they visit most or least? What are the keywords that people use to find your website? What are the sources of traffic for your website?
Only when you are armed with this kind of data can you make informed decisions about where to implement elements of kaizen on your website. But where do you get this data from? Probably the easiest and least costly place to look for analysis tools is Google.
By using a combination of Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools you will build a picture of how your website is being used. You may be surprised to learn that visitors to your website are drawn in different directions to the ones you thought, and that now the struggle for balance is the one between making it easy for visitors to find the information they want, and imparting the key marketing messages that you are focusing upon as an organisation.
A detailed analysis of your website traffic will give you the information you need to better serve the needs of your customers. You will be able to make informed decisions, focusing more energy and resources towards those areas of your website which need them the most, and thereby gradually improve the performance of your website.
The perfect website does not exist. But a policy of continuous improvement will help you on the journey towards it.
(Kaizen image is used under Creative Commons licence courtesy of Brandon LLW)