Here’s a hypothetical, yet entirely possible situation.
Let’s say we have just spent a few days, or maybe a few weeks, or maybe even a few months planning, designing and developing a web site. We launched the site and we are live on the web. Great!
This is where the fun begins. Why do I say that?
During the web site design and development process, we move through the project mostly based on speculation, planning and research. We are basically taking the best educated guess as to how a site needs to be set up. We are hopefully catering to our visitors and making it easy for them to do what we want them to do.
This sounds all fine and dandy, but reality steps in once the site starts to get some traffic. It’s often at this point that some harsh realities are made apparent. Or maybe certain ideas that are brought up during development are vindicated.
And how we react to what we see is the fun part.
When the traffic starts to come in after a site launch, we get to analyze what our real site visitors are doing and make adjustments. How do we analyze?
When a site goes live, we immediately install web traffic analytics on the site. This allows us to see how many people are visiting the site, where they are coming from, what searches brought them to the site, and what they did while they were on the site. And a whole lot of other stuff.
After site launches, it’s common to often see that people aren’t doing what we wanted. But that’s okay, because it’s easy to make adjustments to a site, test, and repeat until we get the results we want.
Let’s take a look at an example scenario to give an example of how this type of analysis could play out after a site launch.
Let’s say that we just launched a web site that is designed to sell two products. These products are higher priced than competing products, but are better.
The products are showcased on the home page, with price, and we want people to click through each product link from the home page to read more about each product on a separate page. Once they have read about the product, we want them to contact us to inquire about how to purchase this product.
Now let’s say that we managed to get 200 visitors to the site over the first week. And we didn’t get any leads or inquiries. Nuts. Where do we start digging?
Let’s dive into the web analytics data and see what we can see.
We first look at how people are finding the site – and we notice in the analytics that the majority of our traffic has come from search engines. Ok, this is good. We’re getting traffic, and that’s never a bad thing.
But we then notice that our bounce rate is at 90%. This means that of all the people that came to site, 90% of them didn’t click through to any other pages, they just looked at one page, our home page, and then left. Good bye!
If we see that the bounce rate is high, it usually means that the site visitors didn’t find what they were looking for on the first page they viewed, and left.
So now we need to start testing.
Remember that I mentioned we listed the price on the home page with the products? Maybe people are just price shopping and they are seeing the price (which is higher than competing products, even though our products are better), and backing out of the site. It’s speculation, it’s just a hunch, but it’s something to go with at least.
We decide to remove the price of the products from the home page and put it on the product pages, listed at the end of the page after all the content. This way people have to at least skim over all the content that describes how awesome the products are and why they are better than competing products before seeing the price.
Then by the time they see the price, hopefully we have educated them as to why the price is what it is.
We make these updates and publish them to our site, one week after launch.
We start to get inquiries and leads the next day, and after a week we check the bounce rate and it’s below 50%.
This is a fairly straightforward example of how site analysis may play out after a site goes live. However, even though it’s a simple example, you can start to see the value in analyzing and improving your site once you start to get real live people visiting and reacting to your site.
No site is perfect when it initially launches, but it’s entirely possible to tweak it over time to get as close to perfection as you can. And that’s why we like to say launching a web site is just the beginning.