Websites matter more than ever. So why are many still missing?

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I recently bought a plane ticket to attend my sister’s wedding in India. After two Covid delays (and just before Omicron brought in increased restrictions) she decided to go ahead with her event and we had to book our tickets quickly. Unfortunately, my experience buying tickets on the airline’s website was a bit of a disaster.

It took me so long to figure out what flights were available and when I almost gave up. And I couldn’t help but wonder: how is this possible in 2022? How can a major airline’s digital customer experience be so bad?

This whole ordeal made me realize how obvious it is now that a company is not focused on the customer experience. The gap between a good and a bad digital experience is widening. And, the consequences of being on the wrong side of the divide become more severe: not only annoyed customers, but also lost revenue, loyalty, and customer advocacy.

For those of us who are online all the time – and let’s face it, since the pandemic has hit most of us – the constant digital exposure has led to skyrocketing expectations. And many websites still fall short.

There are simple but essential reasons why many companies are still on the wrong track. Here are three of the most common pitfalls.

Failure 1: A lack of alignment with the purpose of the website

The downfall of a website usually starts at the top. As internal business units fight over their vision for the site, customer experience — and the fact that websites are ultimately about revenue — is often overlooked.

With e-commerce sales expected to grow from $4.8 trillion in 2021 to $6.4 trillion in 2024, the stakes are high. Studies have shown that 40% of visitors will leave a website that takes longer than three seconds to load, and 88% of visitors are unlikely to return after a poor user experience. Bad UX is a trillion dollar problem for e-commerce sites; 35% of consumer dollars are left on the table because the user experience does not live up to expectations.

Without understanding the customer or the drive to convert website visitors, websites become a mess of competing goals and messages that ultimately serve no one. Companies that succeed online not only understand the primary purpose of the website – to build customer empathy, share the brand story, and generate revenue – they internalize it and map it onto their website.

They know their number one job is to make the customer journey as easy as possible.

Related: How Customer Experience Affects Your Bottom Line

Failure 2: Still Trapped in Dysfunction Recovery Mentality

If your business hasn’t aligned with the purpose of its website, the resulting digital mess will undoubtedly lead to internal frustration – and grievances will pile up. At this point, it might seem easier to just wipe the slate clean and relaunch the whole site rather than tackling the issues one by one.

But rerolling is not an optimal solution here. It’s slow, expensive, and just as likely to result in another bad website. Especially if stakeholders are still vying for their share of the proverbial pie. It’s time to proclaim the death of relaunch and reframe the way websites are created and maintained. Forget complete redesigns. Forget the long list of requirements. Speed ​​and iteration is the new name of the game.

I have worked with thousands of organizations. What I’ve seen time and time again is that to be successful, web teams need to internalize the primary purpose of the website and their customer journey. And be nimble enough to make frequent, incremental changes in response to market and user needs.

That’s how Harvard redesigned its website and rolled out a dynamic homepage that supports constant and seamless updates. Reinventing one of the world’s most prestigious and prominent university websites required a deep understanding of the needs and goals of its multiple audiences. By surveying user groups, the team learned the desire for simplicity and engagement. This allowed the team to focus on clarifying complex user journeys and creating a sense of universal and timely appeal.

Treating your website as a living, breathing marketing asset that requires constant care starts with a change in mindset and then a change in process. Finally, there must be tools that give the marketing team the power to respond in real time to changing customer demands.

Related: 5 Key Principles for Redesigning a Business Website

Failure 3: IT is fully responsible

For so many companies, trying to fix a broken website goes something like this: Marketing files a ticket with IT to make a change. They wait… and nothing happens. Eventually, they send an executive to IT to find out what’s going on. It’s a long and painful process, and it’s probably not enough to make the website even better anyway.

While the success of a brand’s website should start at the top, the changes underway are often IT-related, even if customer-centric experiences fall squarely in the marketing camp. But a multi-stakeholder approach that empowers front-line marketing teams with web operations tools, rather than siloing this function within IT, can also solve this problem.

Tableau, for example, has dedicated a small team to the ad hoc evolution of its site through daily, weekly, and monthly sprints. They were able to make steady, steady progress without relying on computers. The result? More than 95% of Tableau’s revenue now comes from its website through 7,000 custom landing pages attracting more than 50,000 leads per month.

Think about all the channels that bring traffic back to the website – social media, email and digital ads. They only report if the website delivers. Letting it languish is a direct path to digital demise. With customer expectations skyrocketing and digital campaigns driving conversions, it’s time to treat business websites like the engines they are meant to be.

Related: 4 Ways to Make Your Business Website More User-Friendly

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