This piece is part of a series surrounding website development best practices as followed by Marketo’s web development team. You can learn about the pre-planning process, how to create an actionable plan, setting your team & project up for success, and managing your team throughout the build process in our previous posts. Now you’re almost at the finish line! Everyone on the team is excited. They are ready to see your hard work, explore the new site, and take it for a spin. And they’re already thinking about what can be done next.
Maintaining excitement about your website is great. This excitement will keep the right stakeholders committed to providing the resources needed. It’s equally as important to keep the team focused, from top to bottom.
Think of it this way:
- Would you launch another 50 SKUs before testing the performance of the first 50?
- Would you open 10 more locations before maximizing the current location ROI?
No, you would not. So why would you treat your digital space any differently?
Because your perceived investment & time to results is small when creating a website, you’re often jerked back and forth in ways no other part of the business would be. It’s important to communicate the power and process to achieve continuous optimization.
The power is that you can learn quickly, sometimes within just a few minutes when testing a new campaign or SKU in your eCommerce store.
The process is based on measuring and comparing the performance of one version versus another.
Remember, there were ROI and benchmarks set into your process. Now is the time to focus on what you set out to prove and improve.
For tactical purposes I have broken the process of preparing the product and the team for launch into two steps:
- Going live
- Preparing to measure
Going live involves the last and most critical parts of the development process, UAT and QA. UAT and QA executed improperly can double the time and cost to launch and can lead to bug-riddled experiences that lose customers by the thousands.
Here is my checklist for moving quickly and effectively through the final UAT and QA process:
|Organizing UAT Feedback for Engineering||If engineering has to dig through feedback from stakeholders, it will double the time to get through final UAT and QA. I use Google Forms to collect UAT Feedback and a Google Sheet to organize the feedback by issue type: functional, formatting, content|
|Getting UAT Feedback from Stakeholders||Stakeholders are notoriously slow, and you’ll often get feedback after you’re live. The key to keeping things on track is consistent communications with timelines and the decisions that will be made for them if they don’t respond by the given deadlines.|
|Keeping Stakeholders Focused on UAT||Once stakeholders start to dig in, they often provide more optimization or content changes than the feedback you need. Don’t reject their feedback for future releases—but don’t include this feedback in what engineering needs to get this version of the site live.|
|Speedy and Complete QA||A regression test is the only way to deliver complete and quick testing. I create regression tests in Google Sheets. Every time there’s a new release I run back through the regression test and mark items as pass or fail. This test can also be handed off to an external QA team.|
|Accurate QA||Accurate QA means testing in real-world environments. If you’re launching an application where 90% of the usage will occur in a stadium during a live sporting even—then you need to test the application in a stadium during a live sporting event. In testing, it’s important to replicate the real-world environment, and this includes making sure your staging environment has the same set up as your live environment.|
Preparing to Measure
Having the new site live without the appropriate measurements is just as good as never launching it. You need to make sure that everything from the tags to the tools and people are ready to accurately measure the impact of the new site or features on your existing website.
Here is my checklist to make sure we are ready to learn:
|Measuring ROI||Make sure all of your benchmarks (KPIs) are set and reinforced with the team.
Here are the three key data categories to include:
2. Benchmark KPIs: An example Benchmark KPI is a current lead conversion of 6.3%
3. Statistically Relevant Requirements: How many visitors do you need to properly test the change in lead conversion? How are these visitors broken done by persona, stage of the funnel, and stage of the journey?
|Tags and Tools||Making sure that the campaigns, web pages, and other aspects of the user journey are properly set up is key to capturing the data needed to measure ROI.
1. Data includes things like Google Tags, defined user journeys and tracking codes.
2. Tools include Google Analytics, email service providers, and ad management platforms.
|Team||Once you’re live the campaigns won’t run themselves, the data won’t interpret itself. People, the people managing campaigns, press releases, content marketing, and more must be ready to execute the day you go live. If the team isn’t ready and the traffic isn’t created to measure ROI, there will be no further executive investment in enhancements that are not being measured.|
Remember, the site is one piece of the business puzzle, and any investment in the website must be measured against other investments for growth and improving key business metrics. If you can’t measure the impact of the site, you can’t justify the spend.
As digital product owners, we must become data scientists. Data is the only way to know what’s working and what’s not to quickly and repeatedly identify where to double down, stay and fold.