Transcript from the "Post Launch Optimization" Lesson
>> But the final thing I wanna talk about for today really is that post launch optimization phase. Is the, go live phase, the live phase. And is the bit that gets, it's like the ugly stepchild that everybody tries to ignore. It's like people don't seem to think about what happens when something goes live.
[00:00:25] And to be honest, I think that comes from our culture as organizations and the way that we are structured and we work in projects, right? And a project has a beginning, a middle and an end. And everything about the people that are assigned to a project, the budget that's assigned to the project, the timelines that a project has, they're all finite, right?
[00:00:54] But digital services, digital channels, digital apps, whatever you wanna call, are not finite. Well, they're not gonna be there until the sun burns out. But they don't end when the project to development ends, they develop well after that. And so thinking about what happens when this thing first launches is really, really important, both in terms of its resourcing, in terms of its funding and the rest of it.
[00:01:25] But also in terms of its design because no design is perfect on launch, no matter how much you've tested it beforehand, right? Nothing beats real users carrying out naturally into interactions on your website, on your app, whatever, to realize what could be improved about the design. You need to see real people using it in the real world to understand what's working.
[00:01:54] And so really that's why post launch optimization from a design perspective is the single most important phase of the project and yet it's the one that's neglected the most, right? I've been designing for 27 years, you think now I'd get it right every time. If you did nothing else for 20, 27 years repeatedly, you think you get pretty good at it.
[00:02:18] I mean, we were hearing earlier about Mark and his VR games that you put 300 hours into, which I personally I just think is obscene. But by that he was getting perfect score every time but it doesn't work like that with design, is variable, it's changeable, is always different.
[00:02:36] And so you never get it perfect until you've launched it. And it can make such an enormous difference. And there's such a big business case here for doing that kinda post launch optimization. And what it basically comes down to is very, very simple. We watch what users do and we learn from that, right?
[00:02:55] And it can make an enormous difference. My all time, one of my favorite articles is an article by Jared Spool, right? Jared Spools is an amazing user experience guy who works with some incredible organizations. And he worked on one project where they identified a problem on the site with the login and registration process.
[00:03:20] They realized that people were dropping out, they decided to do some testing and improvement and iterations, A/B testing and that kind of thing. And through one change, they increase the company's revenue by 300 million. That is the power of A/B testing, that is the power of post launch optimization.
[00:03:40] Now that you might not work on sites [LAUGH] that can make one change and make 300 million extra. But even a more modest projects like the kind that I work on, I work with one company for five years, an e-commerce company, just to stand in the e-commerce company.
[00:03:59] Nothing particularly special about it, they sell frozen ready meals to old people. It's not exactly sexy, I don't get to work on sexy things like Jared does. But over a five year period of optimizing their site and improving over time, we increased their conversion rate a hundred fold, not their conversion rate, their revenue, a hundred fold.
[00:04:22] Now that's huge, that's an enormous return investment. Did we redesign the website from top to bottom in that time? Not really, no, we incrementally improved it. Sometimes those incremental improvements were bigger than others. But that's the power of post launch optimization where you can see real users interacting with your website in real time.
[00:04:43] So how do we do this kind of work, for a start, how do we get the client agreed to this kind of work, right? And that's all about preparing the ground for this kind of optimization. Before you get to it, before you get to the live stage, you've gotta get this into your stakeholders and clients heads.
[00:05:00] So start early, from the very start of the project talk about post launch optimization. Add at least some time to your timeline for that kind of work. So as a rule of thumb these days, we're not, cuz inevitably they want a gantt chart or time line for your project, which are always works of fiction, right?
[00:05:23] Nobody's ever stuck to one of those things, I don't believe, at least not in my experience. But the temptation is the last thing on that timeline, is go live, right? New, new, new, never do that. Have that about two-thirds of the way through the timeline, right? So you've got a good chunk of time for development bug fixing for a start.
[00:05:44] Once the website goes live or an app goes live, you find bugs, it's just inevitable. But also to at least start the process of optimizing the website post launch, simple thing you can do, makes a ton of difference to build that in from the beginning. The other thing is to create that ideas list, remember earlier I was talking about how to deal with scope creep.
[00:06:04] And that you just start a list to have post launch features and improvements. And the list then encourages, everybody starts adding stuff to it, they get ideas, people then start getting excited about what you could do once you go live and you build a bit of buzz and enthusiasm around it.
[00:06:21] So that starts to introduce some stuff. [CROSSTALK]
>> A bit of a comment, I feel like with a product versus a website with a product, oftentimes launch is really just the start.
>> It's that whole release early, release often. And, for instance, with Frontend Masters, we should have done this much earlier but we just hired.
[00:06:46] It was about at the beginning of the year, we hired a user research, user testing. And have a company to kinda go through and audit the product and give suggestions and then come up with A/B testing. And so we're starting to run some of that to try to improve the product, improve the website.
>> It's surprising mine, I mean, you say what people that have products tend to think more in this way and you're absolutely right, they do, right? But I'm still surprised especially with an enterprise companies, traditional, large, retail businesses or places like that. There often there isn't that mindset still that they often launch, a product is launched out of associated with some marketing campaign, something that's not core to their offering.
[00:07:36] They often are left to wither and die. Yeah, I've seen companies start community sites that are left to wither and die. Or they they decide that they're gonna launch a mobile app cuz everybody has apps these days and needs to be in the app store and then nothing's done with it.
[00:07:54] So, yeah, I think there is a better mindset with that. But I think it tends to be in more progressive companies and that older companies tend to be a little bit stuck in that project mindset of, do a project, move on. Especially if it's driven by marketing cuz marketing are very orientated about campaigns, you do a campaign you move on to the next one.
[00:08:18] So it's breaking that thinking that I think we all need to be doing really