Is your website ever done?

6 min read Optimal Workshop

In today’s world, a website is never done. Just like your business, it needs to be dynamic and ever evolving. It can be helpful to think of your website as your shop front – your one chance to grab your users attention, and to keep it. 

A website in 2021

In recent times, the importance of the website has only continued to grow. In many places around the world, these ‘shop fronts’ have been the only ones users can see, and with time on their hands the internet and all it contains has been where people have engaged, entertained and shopped. Behaviours have changed and so have expectations. Websites have proven vital for businesses to keep customers informed in an ever changing world and market. Your website may be your only interaction with your customers. This is especially true post-pandemic. With lockdowns and social distancing measures in effect around the world, the shift to using websites as the primary means of finding information and purchasing products has only accelerated.

In 2021 the website has to be a lot of things, but most importantly it has to serve as a reflection of your organization. 

From the moment a user lands on your website homepage , you’ve got less than a second to grab their attention. Your website needs to be quick, smart, easy to navigate and engaging. Largely in that order. And your user experience (UX) will determine if they can accomplish what they need to do, or even if they return to your website and business.

By constantly testing, reviewing, updating and adding to your website it will remain relevant, vital and a strong reflection of your business. Keeping your business evolving and growing. And keeping your users returning, time and again.

Want some examples?

Here are some great examples of modern companies maintaining great websites – websites that evolve, driven by changes in trends and across different markets and sectors (and of course recent world events).

  • Health Post : This New Zealand website has evolved with changing market trends. Recognizing a growing consumer demand for natural and New Zealand-produced products, the website (reflecting the business) has moved to a more informative and content-based site. Serving customers who want to learn more about products and well-being.
  • Netflix: Algorithms, sorting and navigation are king for Netflix. Netflix is constantly changing how they sort and display our viewing material. The images we see, what category they show us these in and adding and removing content. Evolution is key.
  • Virgin America: Often voted one of the best websites for usability, this is a company that continually evolves too. Their website reflects this. Making a booking system that is intuitive is no mean feat. What’s more, they also provide all of the information and guidance that modern travellers need.
  • Air New Zealand: The Air New Zealand website is another that evolves constantly, and especially in this unsettled time airlines have had to have their fingers on the pulse and ready to evolve, pivot and change at a moment’s notice. The Air NZ website has done this at every turn.

How to use card sorting and tree testing to build and maintain better websites

While it’s accepted that most websites have a life cycle of 2 – 5 years, this is only a guide and does not mean that your website will not need any attention within (or even before) this timeframe. You’ll need to consider – and continue reconsidering – the look and feel, navigation and information kept on the site.

The best way to ensure that your website evolves well is to test, test and test again. This helps to inform decisions in the best way, with data to back them up. It provides insights into your users way of thinking as well as helping you create a robust IA to deliver an ideal user experience, intuitively and effectively.  

Without needing a complete rebuild, you can create up to date iterations of your website by:

  • Improving navigation: How intuitive is the navigation of the site? Or in other words, the findability of information. Using tree testing with Treejack to investigate and work backwards with users to research which pathways are working, and which, well, need reworking. Gaining insight into which parts of your website are working their hardest and which might need re-organising or removing. Creating IA that is intuitive.
  • Information sorting: Paired with tree testing, card sorting will provide insight on how information on your website is sorted. Have things changed in your business? Or new services or products been added and others moved on? Or is it simply time to take another look at how intuitively your website works. Card sorting with OptimalSort – based on data collected from users – can help sort your information into an intuitive order. And, with this fuller picture, creating a much better UX.
  • Updating your homepage: Did you know that 87% of people that find themselves on the right path after the first click will successfully complete their task on your website? Checking your homepage for usability with Chalkmark can help you to map if you are truly starting your users on the right path to success. Your homepage needs to work hard to grab users from the beginning, and knowing there is a clear path to where you want them to go or what you want them to do will help keep them with you.

Using these tools to inform decisions can mean that updates made are considered and the most effective they can be. Intuitive, easy to navigate and successful user experiences.

The ideal process

How often do you judge a business by their website? Initially you’ll judge their homepage, in a split second, and if you’ve stuck around, by the ability to navigate and find what you need. These are good clues into what your users experience. Let’s give them the best experience possible and keep them coming back.

A modern website will change and adapt over time, just as your organization will and just as your users will. A living, breathing website will adapt to changing trends, needs and markets. Your website needs to be a reflection of your business, a way to communicate to your users what you are about and who you are. For a lot of businesses you may never have human contact beyond your website. You may never speak directly to your customers, or even email them personally. So, your website needs to provide all the information, education and details that the customer needs to make a decision to purchase or engage. 

With all of this in mind, having a regular plan to test, check and react to emerging patterns and changes in your business, markets, industry and users behaviours you can evolve your website, and your business continuously.

Wrap up

Testing, checking, adding and updating of your website regularly is essential to a healthy and vital website. Treejack, OptimalSort and Chalkmark work together to create a fuller picture of your current website and guide decisions for your next iteration.