Think Your Web Site’s Perfect? Think Again.

You may recall that phrase, “practically perfect in every way” from the film “Mary Poppins.” Although it was used to describe Mary, who was indeed quite perfect, it’s a phrase I sometimes hear from Web site owners. Unfortunately, when they describe their sites this way, they may be swallowing a few too many spoonfuls of sugar to make the medicine go down.

Web design and analytics tends to focus a lot on making things better. There’s always room for improvement. The Web is such a dynamic environment that between the design of a site and its launch, the variety of available technologies could have completely changed. As marketers and business owners, we’re trained to seek out and fix imperfections in our sites. We scrutinize our scorecards as if they’re the stats for a fantasy baseball team, knowing with just the right trade, we’ll make it to this year’s World Series.

It’s easy to become complacent and begin to believe your site has reached a state of near-perfection at which no further improvement is required. This can happen when scorecards are on a continuous upward slope and business is doing well. Perhaps orders are up month over month for the past year and customer satisfaction is at an all-time high. The prospect of investing six figures in a site update just doesn’t make sense, particularly when other marketing programs may be drastically under-funded.

So, if it’s practically perfect, why make changes?

Here are four reasons:

  1. The best time to change the game is when you’re winning. Leaders know being in the lead is a prime opportunity to come up with a new strategy. No one leads forever, but it’s a lot easier and less costly to plan ahead when seas are smooth than when you’re bailing water. Use this time to closely evaluate the marketplace and figure out how to stay ahead. (This is also known as the “make hay while the sun is shining” rule.)
  2. You may be missing something obvious. If your scorecard looks nice and green, perhaps there are some new KPIs you need to address. The beautiful thing about driving towards KPIs is they provide focus and success can be measured. The danger is you can become myopic and miss some of the interesting things happening at the periphery. Ask your team to look at the business sideways and see what turns up.
  3. Improvement is continuous. As Japanese car manufacturers have demonstrated over the past several decades, continuous improvement makes products endlessly better. As perfect as you might believe your site to be, you know it can be just a bit better. Do that, and repeat. This is the beauty of optimization and why you should allocate budget for this upfront.
  4. The top may be higher than you think. Face it, even with continuous improvement, we’re always moving just a bit further along the standard ruler. What if you measure yourself with a much bigger ruler? The amazing site you designed two years ago and have endlessly improved since may just be ready for a paradigm change. New technologies help make the wildest dreams possible. Spend some time dreaming big.

Keeping your site’s success in perspective is a key lesson for every marketer and business owner. In a culture of analysis, the numbers can sometimes look so good that our attention wanders elsewhere. Things may appear practically perfect, but appearances can be deceiving.

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