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How optimization impacts an organization

Optimization is disruptive and will make people at your organization uncomfortable.  This is a good thing.

The way most organizations work with websites doesn’t naturally encourage continual improvement.  While a lot of changes might be made, the impact of those changes and why they are made aren’t always evaluated.

A typical workflow might look like this:

  1. Website ideas are brainstormed
  2. An idea is selected
  3. Creative and development do their magic and publishes the updates

Once optimization is thrown into the mix, it changes a bit:

  1. Website ideas are brainstormed
  2. Multiple ideas are selected to test
  3. Creative and development do their magic and launches a test
  4. Data is collected and, after analysis, the best idea is revealed and published
  5. Lessons learned from the test are used to design other tests (go back to step 1)

The main differences between these processes are the number of ideas published and the follow-up analysis.  Getting to try a lot of ideas has obvious benefits, however the follow-up analysis is really where you get value from testing.  One part of that value is information gleaned from the data collected.  The less obvious benefit is that testing forces a follow-up analysis, pushing everyone to be more mindful with what changes are done on your website.

Testing makes you ask, “What is the best idea?” and get an answer through your customers. Without testing, you simply make the statement, “This is the best idea” and the story ends there.

So while the obvious benefits of optimization are the ability to try multiple ideas and to prove those ideas through data, the way it makes people involved think about your website is where the long term benefits comes from.  Because of the accountability involved in testing, people are forced to slow down and consider the ROI of their ideas.  This makes it easier for good ideas to rise to the top and low value ideas to sink to the bottom.

There’s nothing that stops ineffectual changes faster than having it stand beside high impact test ideas that are generating your company revenues.

If you’re looking to boost the performance of your website, getting an optimization tool and services is one step, but the other is to start thinking about your website in this goal driven manner.  Combine the two and you’ll have an incredible optimization program.

Photograph: http://www.flickr.com/photos/51035610542@N01/CC License

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