Prioritizing improvements to your Shopify store

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As we explored in a previous article, even though your Shopify store has gone live and is converting, your work is never done. There are always things to be done that can drastically improve your online store, not just your conversion rate but also your Search results, user experience and marketability. However, that list is very long and each item brings with it different angles of improvement, so how do you choose where to start?

If you’ve entered into any development cycles, you will know that it often just isn’t feasible to do everything all at once. Development can be costly and you might not have the resources (time or available developers if you have an in-house team) to complete large chunks at once. Your best bet is to build a development roadmap for the rest of the year and carefully plot your development in stages, taking into account the time it takes to roll-out and test.

Firstly, you will need to prioritize from that long list of improvements which ones make the most logical sense to start with. There are a number of ways to prioritize this, which includes tackling lower hanging fruit first to get them out of the way, or what is most beneficial to your cause. As with anything in business, you need to analyse the situation first to determine the way forward – so that is a great place to start.

Analysis

You may already have a list of improvements that you would like to tackle, however if you do not you can use our ‘Increase Your Conversions’ checklist for some great ideas. These will include bugs that you or customers have encountered, improvements to the User Interface (UI), new features that you would like to implement, improving website discoverability (SEO related), and other changes to boost upsell and conversions.

Review the current performance of your website using all the tools at your disposal, including performance measurement tools like Google Analytics, Google PageSpeed Insights, Google Mobile-Friendly Test, Backlink Checker, etc. Using real data from your users allows you to make more informed decisions when it comes to prioritizing your tasks. Obviously, pain points that directly affect your customers will be your most pressing issues to tackle (as opposed to backend issues that only affect you and your team).

Compare the results to your goals as it will highlight any glaring issues and help you identify where you need to be focusing your improvements. These items will become your to-do list, and your next step is to determine the importance or urgency of each.

Determination of prioritization

In order to build your development roadmap, you need to have prioritized your improvements completely. You need to look at your list of items with a critical eye and ask a number of questions that will help you determine where they fit on your scale of importance.

  • What are your reasons for doing it? (better conversions/SEO/UI/UX?)
  • Are they good enough reasons to justify the development/time/money?
  • How will your business benefit from it? (more revenue/functionality/brand awareness?)
  • Does it streamline operations? (whose life does it make easier?)
  • How long will it take to implement/fix?

The way we look at it there are 4 main categories for changes to a website and this is the most logical order to do them in:

  1. Bug fixes:
    Bugs can severely affect the performance of your online store, so it is imperative that you make them a priority to address. Especially if bugs hinder the checkout, registration, or any part of the cart process (adding, editing, etc.) as this will directly impact on abandoned sales and returning customers. Thankfully Shopify don’t really allow merchants to have checkout experiences that are anything but extremely smooth. All areas of the experience in the build up to checkout are such that customers feel 100% safe and secure, and that the process is as bug free as possible. Anything out of the ordinary or remotely ‘buggy’ and you will have an abandoned cart epidemic.
  2. UX (User Experience):
    UX plays a huge role in increasing conversion rates and lowering the bounce rate. A good UX leaves a far better impression on the customer and leads to return customers and repeat business. Online shopping can be confusing for many people, so the more comfortable they feel on your website, the less likely they are to abandon your pages. Ensure that you tackle tasks that help make your website more intuitive, mobile-friendly, increase your product findability, and make processes like registration and checkout super easy and easy to find.
  3. Customer Acquisition:
    Improvements that will make new customer acquisition strategies (marketing and SEO) easier will help to ensure an ongoing stream of new business by increasing web traffic, such as newsletter sign-up pop-ups, social sharing capabilities, and enabling social reviews to pull through to your product pages. Growing your brand awareness and traffic levels will boost your sales numbers, so if there are improvements and integrations that are in your power to do, you would be wise to implement them.
  4. UI (User Interface):
    Finally, UI improvements refer to the visual design of the website and can be considered new features that you want to add (eg. adding a banner to your home page with the top 10 most popular products on it or changing the look and feel of your store). Similar to UX, a good UI will impress visitors and keep them coming back, as well as make them feel comfortable shopping on your site all while making an emotional connection.

Every business is unique, so your needs may be slightly different and so the above might look a bit different for you. You may be more anxious to increase your marketing efforts and so new customer acquisition might be higher up on your priority list. However, as long as you align your improvements with your store goals you are on the right track.

Building your roadmap timeline and execution

Once you have narrowed down what needs to be done, it’s time to strategically execute the tasks to see the most impactful results in as short amount of time as possible. You can use our unique speed:impact formula to ensure that tasks are executed in a sequence that allows you to benefit the most, as quickly as possible.

Below is a chart showing how by prioritizing your tasks for the shortest execution times and highest impacts first, you will see a greater return on your investment much sooner. Of course this chart is created using perfect data (never the case) and the 100% axis signifies the total return you will receive from the work, not the % amount of return expected as this will vary.

Realization of ecommerce ROI based on prioritization of tasks.

Priority 1 - QWHI Tasks
Quick Win, High Impact tasks will almost always be prioritized highest and scheduled to be done first.

Priority 2 - BTHI Tasks
Bigger Task, High Impact items will require a bit more time to execute, so once the QWHI tasks are done, these will be the next priority to focus on.

Priority 3 - QWLI Tasks
Quick Win, Low Impact tasks will be deferred to a later date, or executed sooner if there is time and capacity to do so.

Priority 4 - BTLI Tasks
Bigger Task, Low Impact items will usually be added to a deferment list or even scrapped if the time and resources required to execute are not viable.

The continuous improvement approach

A website requires continuous improvement, and with the insights we can gain from site metrics and performance analytics, coupled with customer feedback, there are usually many updates and improvements to be made. The Continuous Improvement Cycle is ideal for ecommerce websites, as it fits in perfectly with the development model when used in conjunction with the insights gained from available metrics.

Continuous ecommerce design and development lifecycle

This cycle is an ongoing effort to improve products, services and processes and consists of a 3 step model of analyse, prioritize and apply. 

Continuous improvement often leads to a much more agile web development process, and yields far better results than when taking it on as you would with any other larger more traditional web development models like Waterfall. Tasks are often completed much faster, and changes and updates are based on real customer data and not just whim. Continuously updating your website extends its lifecycle, so it will be much longer between expensive, complete site redesigns!

Improvements going forward

As you will have already gleaned, your website will never be truly ‘done’. New technology is always being released, Google is always changing their algorithm, and trends change so quickly – so you need to stay on top of things to keep from falling behind on that ever-growing to-do list. For a lot of Ecommerce stores everything other than improvements that help increase their conversion rate is a luxury, so you might want to focus all of your energy and strategies on that.

However, if this is too much of an undertaking for your business right now, then ConversionBoost is far better suited to help you see exponential growth in your online store conversion. ConversionBoost is one of our specialised services, where we use an evidence-based approach, with data collection and analysis, to improve and enhance your store. It is designed for established stores that already have a baseline of performance, and stores with a certain level of traffic and sales already will see the best results. Ready to take your Shopify store to the next level? Apply now.

 




Ross Allchorn
Ross Allchorn

Author

Hi, I'm Ross, an entrepreneur, author and a specialist in e-commerce. I'm always keen on hearing about new and interesting startups and projects, so feel free to contact me using our contact page.