We all have to make changes to our websites from time to time. It could be a straightforward change to prices or text, or it could be a relaunch of a whole new site. There are some fundamental principles around how we do those changes which can
- save time
- save money
- reduce stress
- convey professionalism
Perhaps the most fundamental aspect in making a change is measuring the impact and taking enough time to plan ahead so that wherever possible the change is proactive and not reactive. Making changes ‘on the fly’ may affect other parts of your site or cause confusion with your own personnel or customers.
Document your Changes
Take note of what you do and when you do it. Later, when you are measuring the effectiveness of a change it is easy to confuse dates. This also effectively provides a ‘handover’ to colleagues if you are absent or leave your role.
Don’t make changes too frequently
If you are able to spread out changes, then it will be clear how each change independently impacts your business. This may not be possible if you want to present one ‘set’ of changes so that customers only see one design shift.
Schedule Changes Sensibly
This is certainly the case if your change is going to require some ‘downtime’ in the system or site. If your peak hours are 9-5 Mon-Fri, then try to schedule changes at the weekend or overnight.
Within your own company and particularly to customers. You can promote the updates in advance so that regular visitors to your site will expect a different ‘look’ on your launch date. Effective communication will reduce the stress of getting to know a new process and will reduce the load on customer service afterwards. Use your social media accounts to create a buzz around new features or design. You could even ‘trail’ a sneak peak of the ‘new look’.
Provide Customer Service
When making changes, update processes and procedures as well as Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). When there is a potential for confusion or new education, ensure a helpline number or email support details are visible and easily accessed.
Break it Down
Complicated changes may be able to viewed as a series of small revisions. In this instance, even if one component fails, other parts of the change may still be on track. If you hoped to accomplish tasks A, B & C, would A & B alone be enough to move forwards? This analysis should all be a part of the planning process.
Have a backup plan
What happens if your changes don’t work or are not well received? Make sure you know how to either revert back or create a workaround. If personnel are key, ensure you have cover or on-call resources.
If your change was designed to increase traffic to your site or increase calls to your business, measure the success. Take time beforehand to quantify your goal and then review after a reasonable time. You may be able to use analytics to help with this.
When everything goes as planned, great! It takes experience and confidence to adapt when things go wrong. Bring in your experts, make sure you have done your research up front and then be prepared to improvise.
If you’re looking for help with Change Control Principles and adapting your website, why not contact us today firstname.lastname@example.org