Website as an Organism

Most websites are static.  There is a lot of time and effort put into optimizing the website with an initial project….but rarely does one see incremental changes over time.  The next time a website is changed is the next time a senior-enough executive takes a look and realizes the look, feel, and content of the existing website is years old.  And then another total revamp is undertaken.  Often invoking the HIPPO issue.

But websites that work best are alive.  They grow, change, morph over time for two reasons: 1) The company supporting the website understands that an evolving website is the best way to keep clients and prospects intrigued and coming back.  2) Making changes and monitoring the resulting changes to metrics is a revenue-enhancing practice.

1) Goldman Sachs makes significant changes to their website’s form, architecture, information, colors on a regular basis.  I believe the goal is (and to me the effect is) to keep clients/prospects/partners coming back for more.

2) More importantly a website needs to change and track metrics to make sure they are maximizing the value of the asset.  A company called Body Ecology did a test and came back with an astounding result.  By changing their website’s purchasing process from drop down menu’s to longer-format, imaged based choices, the company saw revenues increase by 56% in the following 6 month period.  No other significant changes happened and website traffic remained approx the same.

Another example was Rosetta Stone which was a phenomenal growth story for a while.  I recall an interview with their CEO who stated they make minor changes to their website each week and closely track client flow through the website and results.  A small change of moving a call to action button from the left side of the page to the right increased leads by 2.5%.  They then made a similar change to their order page and saw a slightly greater increase in total sales.  This small act that took a web developer less than 20 minutes to execute resulted in additional millions of revenues.  That is the real reason why one must consider a website a dynamic, living thing, rather than a one-and-done project.

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