Eating the cake and keeping it slim. Quick wins vs. long-term strategy in website optimization

It's your first day at work in your new management position. The expectations are high and so is the pressure. It's all about results. Can you deliver?

You know a few quick wins will make your team look good, but you also know the time to review long-term goals will come at the end of Q4. How do you negotiate your resources' time and efforts to achieve both?

Here are a few tips for how to plan a website optimization process and balance your goals of all sizes, in both the short and long term.

Defining goals for optimizing your website

The first step, prior to deciding on a plan of action, is to understand what your business’s main goals are.

  • What are the main goals of your website?
  • What are you trying to achieve?
  • Are you an ecommerce site and want to increase revenues?
  • Are you a content site and want to increase engagement or SEO quick wins?

Once you’ve answered these kinds of questions, you need to figure out what your KPI’s are and how you can measure your business’s and website’s success.

The next step is to understand your limitations. When you take into account your resources, capabilities, policies etc., what kinds of changes are you realistically able to implement?

Once you’ve established where you want to get and what kinds of resources you have to get there, you can begin to plan the how.

Successfully planning and executing a web optimization strategic plan

To effectively manage your web optimization strategy, you will need to identify any potential changes according to type, identifying quick wins opportunities as well as larger-scale changes.

There are three types of changes you might make:

  1. Technical (for example, fixing a broken link)
  2. UX (minor changes to the layout, for example replacing an element within a page)
  3. Strategic (larger scale changes, such as redesigning the website or revising the entire concept)

SEO optimization is an integral part of both technical and UX changes, and can easily yield some quick wins. Some simple UX improvements can be achieved by running short-term A/B testing for a small number of website elements.

Website Optimization types

Once you’ve decided on the type of changes you would like to make, you should divide them into two different roadmaps:

  1. A quick wins strategy for the ongoing changes, usually the technical and UX changes that don’t take too much time and effort to fix, but can have a big impact.
  2. A strategic roadmap that includes a wider and deeper type of thinking about your business’s and website’s goals, such as designing a new layout for the website, creating a new checkout process, and so on.

The main challenge that most companies face is effectively managing the quick wins vs long term roadmaps. Unfortunately, there is no other choice but to manage them at the same time. Nobody said success would be easy!

You can’t and you shouldn’t wait with some of the changes for the long term, and you cannot achieve all your goals with just easy fixes and without thinking strategically.

Of course, you should keep in mind that the two roadmaps must be aligned. When creating them you need to consider all the various aspects. Invest the time and resources to plan according to the goals and KPI’s you’ve set out. Don’t get into a situation where your planning is based on your dreams and not on your capabilities.

With that in mind, you need to allow your website quick wins strategy to be flexible enough to enable you to adjust quickly to market changes, competition and technical issues.

Strategic roadmaps for website optimization

Your quick wins strategy is important for keeping your employees connected to the progress of your company, and their place within it - which itself ensures a culture of motivation and innovation that feeds itself back into your product. In order to maximize the rewards you reap from this strategy, you need to clearly demonstrate what changes you’re making and why. It may even make sense to start with your quick wins strategy in one department before expanding to the rest of the company. And make sure the strategy is being led on the ground by a team you can trust.

Having said that, beware of the quick wins paradox! Whilst quick wins are important and a sign of greater success, pursuing them relentlessly has actually been linked to poor leadership. So when you’re implementing your quick wins strategy, try to avoid falling into these traps:

  • Being too focused on the small details
  • Having a negative reaction to constructive criticism
  • Making others feel intimated
  • Coming to conclusions too quickly
  • Micromanaging your team

The 70/30 Rule

We recommend following the 70/30 Rule: 

  • 70% of your activities should be planned as part of the strategic roadmap.
  • 30% should be left for the short term changes - optimizing a website for quick wins.

This will create a balanced environment of progress that will allow you to grow and improve, to be flexible and to be able to adapt to any market changes, whilst always keeping the big goals in mind. It will also allow you not to rush into decisions, to plan strategically and act responsibly.

Watch this webinar by Michal Harel of Clicktale joined by Jenni Bruckman, Senior Client Manager of Brooks Bell, who completes the subject with practical insights and examples of successfully planning and carrying out website optimization change management.

This post was originally published in April 2015 and has been updated for freshness and comprehensiveness.

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