Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Four Key Metrics of Web Redesign Success

Over a year ago I had a chance to participate in an extremely complicated web redesign for a large business-to-business client, but for a variety of reasons didn’t pursue the project.

Now the redesigned web site is finally live.  

During discussions with the potential client and partners, the idea of measuring how users behave on the website was not a priority. 

This viewpoint concerns me, because when it comes to an integrated and strategic marketing communications program, the point of a b-to-b website is to figure out what the site’s goal is (increased conversions? More qualified leads for the sales pipeline? Increased time on site?  Increased contact us forms?) and build the site to support the overall goal.

One can only know if the web project is successful, or achieves a positive ROI, if the goals are clearly established at the outset. 

First Ask Why
Anybody who has worked with me in past 5 years has heard me say the following rant a zillion times:

When it comes time to redesigning a B-to-B website, take time to ask why. The most important first step is to establish the overall goal of the site (lead gen? awareness building? encouraging user participation in a forum? encouraging downloading collateral?). Then, make these tasks extremely fast and obvious to do. Less common actions should certainly not be any more complicated than necessary, but priority should be given to the key user goals.

Home Page as a Political Football
Now that the site is launched, it is clear that the home page became a political football inside the organization.  I counted at least 13 “calls to action” on the home page.  Download this. Click here. Read this. Buy that. View this. Watch that. Visit here. See this.... oy vay!!  It is hard to determine the "key user goals" on the home page. 

Resource Intensive
Complex web redesign projects are significant undertakings, and represent a tremendous amount of effort. 

After a relaunch, it's important to focus on the following key metrics, which are available via Google Analytics.  

After about 3 to 6 months from the launch, the web team should share the following data: 

  • bounce rate (the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page), which should go DOWN after a relaunch
  • time on site - which should go UP after a relaunch
  • page views - which should RISE after a relaunch
  • conversion rate (which should go UP, measuring percentage of visitors who fill out a form; take an action like signing up for newsletter, etc)
While certainly not the full picture, these four metrics provide a good "snapshot" to indicate how the site has optimized user behavior.  

Next Step: ROI 
In fact, these four key metrics help calculate overall ROI, a topic addressed here.  

When calculated along with cost of the website; the percentage increase of visitors to the site; number of closed sales to leads; and average revenue of a closed sale, one can then determine the Return on Investment of the site redesign.

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