Do This, Not That: Website Edition (Part 2)
More Solutions for Common Web Problems
As mentioned in the first article in this series, there are a variety of ways to complete a task on the Web, but some solutions are better than others. Below is a continuation of the list of common Web problems you may encounter in your website updates and some more-optimal ways to solve them.
Problem: I Want to Increase Conversions
Poor solution: Hope for the best.
Better solution: Identify the goal and simplify it down to a measurable, actionable outcome (ex. I want 100 people to see this and have five people register).
You should always consider why you are doing something and how you will measure its success. Depending on what you’re trying to measure, there may be a best way to do so. It can be as simple as page views or clicks, but it can also be campaign codes to watch the flow of a user, discount codes, or vanity URLs.
When measuring, make sure you’re also keeping in mind conversions—it’s great when people see what you sent them and even visit your website, but did they do what you wanted them to? Did they register or make a purchase? Can you say specifically that people took action because of your blast e-mail versus a postcard versus stumbling across your site?
This is especially important when we’re all so focused on budgets—can you prove that your marketing funds are working? Can you prove that you should stop sending the same postcard because no one takes action? Having data to provide to other staff or a board of directors is helpful in making a case for or against something.
Problem: I Need to Collect Information
Poor solution: Post a PDF or a fillable PDF.
Better solution: An online form, possibly integrated with your database.
Online forms are commonplace and basic ones can be pretty easy to set up. Admittedly, they do get a bit more complicated if you need to collect money or want to integrate the form with your database. However, depending on how you use the form, integrating with your database can provide a HUGE return allowing you to pull reports and track information. Integrated forms usually work better for high-traffic, data-heavy forms.
If you’re unsure whether an integrated form is worth the efforts, consider this: once a user has completed a basic form (whether PDF or online), what happens with this data? Does someone need to manually enter it into the database or a spreadsheet? How often? Do you then need to share this information in different ways? Staff time can really add up working with such a form. Staff time may not be as visible as an invoice or item in the budget, but think of all of the time you are spending and what you could be doing if you weren’t pulling form information.
Problem: I Need to Add Copy to the Website
Poor solution: Throw text up on the website, never look at it again.
Better solution: Build an editorial calendar, audit the site for out-of-date copy, make notes, and create reminders to update information.
The more pages you have on your site, the more content there is to keep track of. When multiple people edit the site, it can be easy to miss pages that still have old dates, old contact information, and outdated text. Conference webpages are a great example. There is usually a mad scramble to get the information up before registration, and with the chaos of the meeting, we’re too busy to execute a “post-event” Web plan to make sure content is now adjusted to reflect that the event occurred, what non-attendees missed, and to save the date for next year.
When you post content for users, the instructions you provide are vital. Follow all instructions you give. If they are complex, provide screen shots and direct links. Make sure these instructions are accurate!
Problem: I Have an Issue to Fix
Poor solution: Implement a solution without knowing what the issue really is.
Better solution: Look at the problem you are trying to solve.
Rather than starting with a tool in mind, determine the friction point or issue you are trying to address, what the requirements are, and how you can measure success. Then determine a budget and consider options. As noted, there are many possible solutions to resolving or creating something for your website. It’s wise to first think through the issue in order to determine the best solution possible.
Do You Agree?
Want to learn more about these or other solutions? Is there a Web topic you’d like to read more about? Let us know on the AMC Facebook page and, if you haven’t already, read part 1 of our “Do This Not That: Web Edition” series.