Website Optimization 101

by Brook Lenox on May 31, 2009

highway-101I’m working on an exciting web optimization project for a client that’s got me thinking.  If you know you’re website is in need of a tune up, how do you approach it and where do you start?

I encourage you to:

1) Approach web optimization by the numbers
2) Start where you’ll have the MOST impact

Approach Web Optimization by the Numbers

numbersWe just put an offer on a house. House hunting and buying can be a very emotional process. Have you ever said, “We just have to have this house. I know it is way out of our budget, but we just have to have it!”

Well people do website optimization projects like that all the time as well. They move ahead without a respect for the numbers.

 

Know Your Numbers

So following the house buying analogy, you hopefully wouldn’t put an offer in on a house if you didn’t:

A) Know what they were selling the house for or
B) Didn’t know if you could afford it.

A couple weeks ago, I spent several hours with Omniture’s SiteCatalyst digging into all the different site metrics that we needed to understand. Even free tools like Google Analytics can give you great data on your website.

Here are some numbers you’ll need to know:

  • Bounce rate of your home page
  • Bounce rate of your landing pages
  • How many people continue through each step in your checkout process
  • Your website overall conversion rate
  • Cost/conversion for campaign traffic
  • Organic and paid search traffic volume

Bounce rate = % of people that come to an entry page and exit it with no other action.

Commit to Making Decision with Data

Even when companies know their numbers, sometimes they still  fall into making emotional decisions. Commit to testing every site design change you make and if it creates a higher bounce rate or a worse overall conversion rate, be prepared to go back!

Start Where You’ll Have The MOST Impact

impactNow that you know your numbers, you’re ready to start. But where?

Should you take on a homepage redesign?
Maybe focus on the landing pages where you send your search engine traffic?
Perhaps your shopping cart path?

 

Many companies will take a top down approach. They design and redesign and redesign their homepage. They never look beyond that.  I would encourage you to look at how many of your visitors come to your homepage versus your landing pages. If you’ve got more traffic coming to specific landing pages, then you should start there. I’m a big believer in optimizing your shopping cart before going through 3 different redesigns on your homepage because that’s where all the people intent on ordering your products are dropping off!

So there you have it.  When starting a web optimization effort, I encourage you to go by the numbers and start where you’ll have the most impact.  Good luck!

Photo credit: justinsomnia, lrargerich, steveFE

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Marc Linden August 31, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Professional videos really add to a website. They can sell your app more effectively than print because they are more informative and entertaining. There’s a company in Iowa that specializes in iPhone videos: rsvp-video.com/demos-internet.htm.

Brook Lenox September 4, 2009 at 11:39 am

Marc,

Saw their video on the ECG app. Not bad. If you’ve got an app that hard to explain I guess they could be a good fit. With “Textfree” as the name, no need for a video (at least when trying to be very ROI driven).

Thanks,
Brook

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