It’s ok if you can’t follow every website “best practice”

One of the most common complaints I hear from my clients is one that I feel myself too: there’s no way I can possible do everything that “should” be done to improve my website.

The struggle is real! But the need to do every single item on your website to-do list is not. Why? Because not every website optimization is going to help you achieve your business goals at this time.

How to choose the right items from your to-do list to focus on

Let’s break that down a litle.

First, let’s remember why we have our website in the first place. We have a website because it serves our business. We spend time and money building and maintaining them because we know that having a great website provides an excellent return-on-investment.

The question then is: what improvements should you focus on now to help your website better serve your specific business goals at this time.

One of the greatest prioritization tools I’ve ever come across is called an “effort-impact matrix.” You can download a blank one here.

What Is An Effort Impact Matrix?

effort impact matrix

As you can see, an effort impact matrix is a 2×2 matrix that plots effort on one axis and impact on the other. “Effort” refers to both time and money. “Impact” refers to how well the action helps you accomplish your goal.

Seeing both effort and impact together is powerful because it helps you focus your limited time and energy on only the ideas that most efficiently help you achieve your goals. Anything that is high impact but low effort (top left quadrant of the matrix) is a “quick win.” You’ll generally want to do these things. Things that are both high impact and high effort (top right quadrant) are “investments to consider.” Anything in the lower two quadrants are of low impact, and so most of the time it’s not worth doing these things.

How To Fill Out An Effort Impact Matrix

Look over your website to-do list. If you don’t yet have that to-do list, and are still stuck in the “overwhelmed don’t even want to think about it because I don’t know where to start” phase, then I recommend reading this post to help.

You’re next step is to plot each item on your to-do list onto your effort-impact matrix, but before you do that, there are a couple important things to be aware of.

There is often more than one way you can do something

Before you write down your ideas just as they are, consider whether there are multiple ways of achieving it. For example, let’s say one of the items on your to-do list is to include a video of you explaining your services. There are multiple ways you could go about creating this video. For example, one way is you could invite a friend to come over and take a video of you on their smart phone. Another way you could go about it is to find and hire a professional video maker to do the recording and then produce the video. 

When filling out your effort impact matrix it’s useful to plot both of these options. Now, filling out an effort impact matrix is subjective, but here’s how I would plot those two possibilities.

Note that both options are in the top half of the matrix, which means they could have a high impact. I did rank the professionally produced option as higher up than the amateur version, but it’s not much higher up. Where we see the biggest gap in on the horizontal effort axis. The Do-it-Yourself version is very low effort, whereas the professional one is very high, both in terms of time and money.

If you have ideas you don’t know how to implement, then plot a “first step” you could take to learn more

Let’s say one of the ideas on your to-do list is to include some sort of illustration on your homepage, but you don’t know anything about making illustrations. If that’s the case, then consider plotting something like “schedule a free consultation with a designer” on your matrix.

Plot Your Own Ideas On Your Effort Impact Matrix

Now it’s time to plot your to-do items!

Here’s an example of the matrix filled out. In this example “Mary” is a persona I created.

effort impact matrix example

What To Do If You’re Stuck

Sometimes it helps to have an expert evaluate your website, or to brainstorm improvement ideas with a professional who excels at asking the right questions and visualizing solutions. If your website would benefit from a professional redesign schedule a free consultation.

2 thoughts on “It’s ok if you can’t follow every website “best practice””

  1. I’m am loving this series. It is giving me lots of ideas for my website. Sometimes I struggle with whether what I post is of real interest to my clients. Some of the things I love posting about may not be of value, so while I enjoy doing it is it not getting me closer to my goals. Thanks for offering us this series with great food for thought.

    • Thanks Kristabeth! I can definitely empathize (still!) with the struggle to choose topics that are of genuine interest to both me and my readers. In addition to using my personas to help with this, I also have a notebook where I keep track of questions my clients ask and things I notice about what they’re struggling with. Then, I turn those very same questions and struggles into blog posts. I wonder if something similar would be helpful to you too?

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