Published: 7th Oct 2015

Optimisation is a mindset

Tim Jones - Managing Director

At True, we’ve witnessed and experienced failed attempts at optimisation over the years.

Why do optimisation projects fail? Well, in part the answer lies in them being treated as a one-off project. Optimisation will never achieve all it could if it’s thought of in this way. It’s like a crash diet. It’ll only take you so far. It’s short termist, and masks potentially bigger problems around the corner.

There are other warning signs that hinder the adoption of true optimisation:

  • No clear KPI’s established up front. Do you have a really clear idea of what success is? Without that, how can we measure improvement?
  • Expectations of immediate, short term wins. Optimisation is not a quick fix. It needs consideration, and an ongoing, long-term approach.
  • No real buy in to the value of deeper analytics and user research – this is the lifeblood of optimisation, without it we’re talking hunches.
  • Believing it’s the panacea to increase conversion rate.
  • An unwillingness to look for optimisation within the organisation. Often issues will be uncovered which go the heart of the proposition, service, fulfilment or pricing strategy. Complete optimisation is not just about what is on the page. 

So, if that’s what to avoid, how should you think about optimisation? Our approach is based on the following principles:

  • End to end journey understanding. We create our optimisation plans based on a deep understanding of customer journeys, not page by page. 
  • Cross-agency involvement, thinking and delivery. Our approach transcends teams. It involves experts from a wide range of disciplines from strategy, analytics, media, UX, creative and technology. It’s not the domain of UX and design alone. It considers traffic driving, social, content, copy, information design, interaction design and technical performance such as load time. 
  • An agreed set of clearly defined and understood success measures.
  • A rolling programme of continuous tests and optimisation.
  • An evolving and rich knowledge base. Built up over time and informed by analytics, user research and observation.
  • A long-term commitment. For us, optimisation starts in planning the site’s UX and design, and is a natural transition once the site goes live. It should be as intrinsic to your digital strategy as hosting or SEO. 
  • A wide range of tools to measure user behaviour and manage testing from Google Analytics, KISSmetrics and Crazyegg to Visual Website Optimizer, Clicktale and Optimizely.

Ultimately optimisation is a way of thinking. It requires a shared, relentless commitment to spot and act on potential marginal gains. There is seldom a silver bullet.