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Thursday, Mar. 19, 2009 at 10:37 am

The Development of an Optimization Culture

By Brendan Regan
March 19th, 2009

One of the things that makes being a Persuasion Analyst at FutureNow fun is watching clients –> partners –> friends grow as an organization.  Many start off skeptical about the process of site optimization, or unrealistic about what can be gained in a given time frame.  But after working through some of the challenges, it’s great to see them thinking about their sites and their businesses in completely different (read: better) ways, and subscribing to a culture of continuous improvement.

Here’s my take on some of the stages in developing an optimization culture:

  • Acceptance – this is the stage where a business realizes that Optimization has value, and in order to reap the rewards, the status quo isn’t going to work.  Something additional has to be done, which calls for some combination of the following: a shift in focus, additional resources, new tools, and working with outside experts.
  • Testing the Waters – this is the stage where the business starts testing and optimizing, and often gets some big wins just by making minor changes to their site, or removing basic conversion roadblocks.
  • Infatuation – after getting some wins from “low hanging fruit,” our clients sometimes become fixated on testing and optimization.  They check their test dashboards multiple times a day, they cheer when they see Google Website Optimizer’s green bar, and they wring their hands when they see any yellow or red indicators.  The less-disciplined business will often lose focus at this point and miss out on all the fun/profit.
  • Thinking About Resources – after things have settled down, there have been a few wins, and a few inconclusive tests (inconclusive changes still give you incredibly valuable data and piece of mind), the business starts to think about how to support an optimization process long-term.  They realize that this process isn’t free; it takes hard work and resources to create and administrate tests.  They evaluate their current teams and whether they can properly support a culture of continuous improvement.  This is a magnificent stage to witness, and once a business knows their resources, it’s much easier to stay OnTarget.
  • Getting Analytical – once in the habit of optimization, we start to see clients question their assumptions, their vendors’ assumptions, and generally why the data is the way it is.  This is when things get fun.  Often, clients write me with test ideas or analysis of their very own, and I know that the training wheels have officially come off. :)
  • The New Way of Doing Business – this stage shows our clients becoming calm and nonchalant when a site change gives them double or triple-digit improvements.  They are equally happy when a test has a negative or inconclusive impact, because it’s all part of the continuous improvement process.  They realize that even single-digit increases achieved on a regular basis will have incredible effects on their bottom line, like compounding interest in a bank account.

I hope this proves helpful, and I hope that more and more of our readers will develop an optization culture. Just please let us know if you need any help.

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Comments (16)

  1. I think the biggest step for most people and businesses is the acceptance step. Once they get past this hurdle then they are on board.

  2. [...] The Stages of becoming an optimization culture [Grokdotcom] [...]

  3. [...] 2008 letter to shareholders: ” At a fulfillment center recently, one of our Kaizen (continual improvement) experts asked me, “I’m in favor of a clean fulfillment center, but why are you cleaning? Why [...]

  4. [...] 2008 letter to shareholders: ” At a fulfillment center recently, one of our Kaizen (continual improvement) experts asked me, “I’m in favor of a clean fulfillment center, but why are [...]

  5. [...] they only using metrics to make them feel better about their efforts or are they using the data to find ways to continuously improve their efforts? And with the widely available tools today, why aren’t the other 21% of businesses even [...]

  6. [...] they only using metrics to make them feel better about their efforts or are they using the data to find ways to continuously improve their efforts? And with the widely available tools today, why aren’t the other 21% of businesses even [...]

  7. i think it’s somewhat hard to get past stage 3. If there was a stall point I’d say thats where it is.

  8. I finding New Way of Business. :P

  9. Fascinating stuff, thanks for the insight.

  10. Thank for sharing.

  11. yet another way the internet is shaping our society.

  12. Seo is developing so fast that I just can’t believe my eyes.It’s becoming something incredible to live without.Like it definitely!

  13. I think we need to develop a certain culture of professionalism in software development in general. SEO optimization should be well integrated into design stages of web sites and their corresponding back-ends.

    Peter

  14. Don’t get focused on traffic, work equally on making the user experience at your site better. Whether you have 1 or 100 visitors, you have a traffic already!

  15. I have one question: The stages that you mentioned in this post should always be in the same sequence? Can’t they overlap? and Can’t we have the cases when we don’t have some of the stages?

  16. @AustraliaMedical: No, there are just some rough ideas; a general roadmap of a developing business intellect centered around optimization. Every business’s journey could be slightly different depending on their culture at the time they started optimizing.

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