Where next in our Digital Performance disco? (ok, it may not be a disco… we’re just trying to keep energy levels high).
Today we are going to delve deep into our methodology – there is a lot of information incoming – so brace yourself.
The Digivante Methodology
We spent a lot of time analysing what was working in our business – what we felt made the difference between testing a few things to make sure they work and improving digital performance for the long term.
I know you are keen to remove all the errors from your website (and so are we), but to do this effectively you need a process. Today we are going to give you a whistle-stop tour of the process we created and highlight how you can use it to your advantage.
Assess – Why are you doing this?
The majority of people who come to us have skipped this initial phase. They know they have problems and are looking to skip straight to the ‘Test’ phase. If this is you, take a step back. Often our initial conversations with clients involve going back over the reasons they need to assess their digital performance.
You need to take the time to understand (and be able to clearly articulate your problem), only then will you be able to understand if it has been corrected – but I am jumping to the end.
Once you have clarified at least in your own mind what the scope of the problem you have is, look at how that is impacting your current performance – is it directly impacting revenue? Is it slowing down your development cycle, or are you dealing with disgruntled customers?
Now you have established the impact of the problem – you can start thinking about your very own utopia – a place where customers buy freely, and your website has no errors. Are you there? It’s a great place to be. Now before you leave – start thinking about what that ideal world is worth to you.
This is what we like to call ‘building the business case’ – In other words – how are you going to know whether or not you have reached your destination – how are you measuring success?
“A plan without a goal is just a wish” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (French Writer)
We are getting a little high-brow now, but the sentiment is strong. Not setting goals leads to frustration, and setting goals is a key part of assessing success.
We ensure that we work through this initial stage with our clients – it means they can measure our success and we can share the victories together.
TEST – How will you do this?
Ok, onto our favourite part and the reason we have a business. The ‘Test’ phase of our methodology. This is ‘where the rubber meets the road’ as my old marketing director used to say (we love a good car metaphor).
You have identified your scope, ran an audit and built a business case, now onto the test. At this stage you probably know what type of test you want to run, but if not we’ll highlight what we think a comprehensive digital performance test looks like.
How is your website performing? Here we recommend not just testing the page load speed, or the overall responsiveness, but look at root causes of these issues.
Another key performance issue is your conversion rate – tracking and monitoring this is essential, but have you also benchmarked it against your competitors.
Is your site secure – do you have any vulnerabilities? Where are those vulnerabilities?
Comprehensive performance testing is challenging – to do it successfully you’ll need to identify what performance looks like for your site.
Usability testing is vital to ensure your platform reflects the needs of real users, with a smooth and convenient online service closely linked to consumer brand loyalty. You should put your platform through testing with real users, matching your customer demographic – this isn’t always easy to find internally and is the main reason people will outsource this. If that’s the case be sure to identify your target demographics and carefully select genuine users that closely match your customer base. This means the results you get are directly comparable to the behaviour of your customers.
The final hurdle to overcome is independence – if people know you are asking questions about your own site, often they will give you the answers they think you want. You will need to be independent with your test. User feedback should be unmoderated, this will make the output more valuable when considering your future development.
You only get one chance at a first impression, let’s face it, as visitors we’ve all experienced frustration from bugs. Whether you are undergoing a re-platform, launching a new feature or working to a regular release schedule, functional testing is a must for ensuring your conversions and digital performance issues are identified.
TK Maxx knew this as they embarked on an ambitious digital transformation and we were there to help them along their way. We delivered over 116 work days of testing in just 4 days. This resulted in identifying a number of conversion-impacting critical issues.
We tested on 400 different device/browser combinations and verified every issue in-house, producing reports with clear reproducible steps and video evidence. A crucial role in ensuring TK Maxx’s successful launch.
Once you have determined the type of test (take note: we will be diving a lot deeper into the practicalities / pitfalls / top-tips of carrying these out throughout our 7 days together), it is then time to implement. Using the guidance we have provided here, it is important to be thorough, use real people on real devices. Log everything, check everything and prioritise. (Rinse, and repeat if necessary).
ACCELERATE – What do you want to achieve?
Into our final phase in this cycle – ‘Accelerate’. This is the key improving your Digital Performance – without this final stage, you are JUST testing.
Onto ‘Reporting’, this is something that most people will do, the Digivante difference (I think I just made us a new slogan), is that we can report to very granular level. Detail is important here – understanding the impact of the issues that you have found and what has been affected. When reviewing and reporting on our activity, we go through each issue found and take the time to understand what each issue was, what the impact of that issue was, and whether or not it has been fixed.
This activity then leads to communicating key recommendations for prioritising your action points and the steps required to conduct a final check to verify your findings. This all ties back into the work you did during the ‘Assess’ phase, answering the questions you posed at the beginning of this cycle. Did you achieve the goals and targets identified during this phase? If you haven’t hit all your targets here, this is not a failure. The important thing is to measure and track your activity – the more you follow this process, the more accurate your targets will become and the better you will understand your own digital performance process.
Last, but by no means least – ‘ROI’ (Return on Investment). This is perhaps the most important part of digital performance management and often overlooked. What did you get from the effort you put in? Because you set targets and measurements at the beginning of this cycle – you can now look at the difference you have made. Most testing reports focus on the bug fixes, the errors identified etc.
These are useful, but ultimately you should now be reporting on the real-life impact of your activities, how have your conversions changed, have you increased your revenue, has your customer acquisition cost reduced, have you increased the average order value, What has happened to your shopping cart abandonment rate? All these metrics can be improved with thorough and comprehensive testing.
We have reached the end of this cycle. Now it is important to start again. Digital Performance is never finished (but at least breaking it into cycles means you can start again knowing how well you fared in the previous cycle).
We’ve found that choosing a different focus for each cycle helps keep energy levels high – this might mean more cycles over-time, but a broad-brush approach can often lead to variable results. Home in on the most important metrics you will be able to see the results of your efforts more clearly.
End of Day 3
That was a lot of information – tomorrow we are going deeper.
Here’s a recap of progress so far – you have decided you want to fix the errors on your site (you signed up for this).
You have taken the time to set yourself some targets (remember the list?), you went through a quick checklist of possible problems, and you’ve seen what success can look like. (Day 1)
You’ve decided how big you want those changes to be – are you looking at a complete replatform, or incremental changes? (Day 2)
You have been taken through our methodology step-by-step and should now have a solid foundation for starting your own testing. (Day 3)
Next, what are the different kinds of testing you can do, and which ones are best for which scenarios?