Each year as spring arrives, the 30 teams of Major League Baseball head to Arizona and Florida to kick off spring training. Every day for a month and a half, the players train, drill, and play scrimmages in preparation for the regular season.
This month and a half provides two valuable returns for the teams:
1. The hours of practice show coaches what their players’ relative strengths are, and their observations throughout the training season as well as the unofficial stats collected from drills and scrimmages guide coaches as they compile the team roster and assign starting positions.
2. Spring training also makes clear the areas where players are weaker, so that they can work on improving their performance in these areas and become better all-around players for the regular season.
Acting on these observations is critical for the teams to successfully prepare themselves for the season ahead and win when it counts.
Building a successful website is not that different from building a successful ball team. Just like the clubs of the MLB, you need lots of data: data to see which pages and user flows are performing well so you can place them high on the roster, and data to see where and why things aren’t going so well so you can coach the weaker links on your website to become team players.
What all this means is that, if you aren’t taking your website to “spring training”, you should be. It can be tempting to design blind and rely on your gut, especially in a pinch, but good design sense can’t substitute for an observation-grounded understanding of what’s working and what’s not.
The first step is identifying your strengths. These are likely to be pages, or flows between a series of pages, that induce a high rate of users to complete a specified goal – making a purchase, signing up for an account, or some other desired action.
For example, you may find when you dive into your visitor data that the highest conversion rate occurs when people move from the home page to the features page, then check out the pricing page, where they finally make their purchase.
With this knowledge in mind, you’re equipped to start rethinking your lineup. The most successful pages should be the most prominent on the site, so make them easier to get to and maybe even move them to a higher navigational level. Encourage movement through high-performing user flows with strategically-placed links.
Emphasize what’s working, put the right pages in the right positions, and you’re halfway ready for the big leagues.
Every website has its weak spots, and often even highly successful pages have room for improvement. As with your power players, your weak links will be evident through visitor metrics.
Doing something about these issues, though, requires a different kind of data: qualitative, behavioral observation. Methods like user testing show what about the process is going wrong – Are people having a hard time finding the right button? Is the content not compelling enough? Do some flows leave gaps in the user’s understanding?
With this kind of data, you can make precise judgments on how to strengthen the problem spots in your user experience. Watching your site in action demonstrates how and why these spots are underperforming, so you can make smart, targeted changes.
Design is about more than aesthetics – the best design enables experiences, and the best design processes draw on user data to inform decisions. Just like a ball team, to be a viable competitor you have to put the man-hours into observing and discovering your strengths and weaknesses, and acting on those observations to optimize your roster.
With a data-driven design process, you won’t just be making a prettier website; you’ll be crafting a better performing whole.
To learn more about data-driven design, sign up for the 5/7 webinar with TryMyUI and PayBoard.