3 Things You Need to Know to Become a Better Website Optimizer

If you're a solopreneur or small business owner and you're the one doing most of the work on your website, today's video is for you.

In researching conversion optimization and doing many website reviews, I've noticed a common trend that leads to a big mistake​. Watch the video to see how something that might seem harmless at first can actually be a considerable (self-imposed) road block for the success of your business.

More...

Here are the 3 important points summarized:

1) Bring Your Value to the World

Your business can only ever succeed if it is built to deliver some form of value to the world. Your website's job is to communicate what that value is, who it's for and to deliver that value effectively.

In other words: a fantastic product is pointless if no one's using it.

The greatest service in the world has no value if no one's being served.

The best content is wasted if it has no audience.

This is why your website needs to be effective, above all else. And that's why...​

2) How You Feel Doesn't Matter

​Your personal preferences should take a back seat when it comes to optimizing your business and your website. In fact, we can narrow it down further: when it comes to driving your business forward and selling, your personal preferences might be deceiving you.

I've noticed that the areas where people tend to have the most qualms - interruptive opt-in forms, long sales pages, auto-play videos etc. - all have a commonality...

They're all related to "pulling the trigger".

Your business' overall direction, the quality of what you create and the way you treat your customers and audience can (and should) all be informed by your character and your own preferences. But don't let your preferences get in the way of building an effective website.​

3) Spend Your Time Wisely

It's a real shame to see someone who has a brilliant (potential) business to share with the world spending forever spinning their wheels.

Deciding on a shade of purple for your button isn't as important as getting new clients.

We all love customization options and believe me when I say that I'm more than familiar with perfectionism. If you want to bring your business' value to the world, you need to overcome the endless tinkering.

Look at this website you're on right now.

This is my website.

Do you think I'm 100% happy with everything about this site?

Heck no!

​I could spend the better part of a day just compiling a list of all the small changes I'd like to make and I could keep a large part of our team busy with optimizations, tweaks and improvements for weeks, if I let my perfectionism run rampant.

But you can watch the videos here, you can read the text and it looks nice enough. In the meantime, the Thrive Team is focused on creating more and better products, because that's just a better use of everyone's time.​

If you'd like a simple framework that helps you make sure the changes you make to your site actually matter, take a look at this post.

Over to You

This has been an usual post for the Thrive Blog, as it's more of a rant and also more personal. I hope you can tell that I'm not just preaching from a high horse, I'm talking about issues that I personally had to overcome (and often still struggle with) as well.

I'd love to know your thoughts and reactions to this post. Leave a comment below to let me know what you think.​

Shane

Author: Shane Melaugh

Shane Melaugh is a co-founder of Thrive Themes. When he isn't plotting new ways to create awesome WordPress themes & plugins, he likes to geek out about camera equipment and medieval swords. He also writes about productivity here.

  • Felix N says:

    I am one of those people who spend more time sprucing up the website and fixing cosmetic issues instead of testing and writing white papers. Thank you for speaking the truth to me!

    Nevertheless, I recently started planning my day the night before and if I do not have an item on my to-do list, I am finding myself not having time to do it since I am focusing on completing my list. An example is on-page optimization – currently doing one or two pages per day.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you for your comment, Felix! It’s great that you’ve already found a system that helps you stay more focused.

  • luca says:

    Great post as usual Shane!

    I should make most of my clients (and some co-workers) watch the video, as this is something that happens quite often.

    We believe we are masters of empathy, and that what we feel and think is exactly what our visitors will think and feel.

    And that is not the case.

    That is why A/B testing is so important, as it takes away the guessing (and sometimes the arguing)…

  • Thanks for the reminder! I needed this right now

  • Naas says:

    Hey Shane
    Thrives Content Builder is fantastic and I am always looking forward to the next feature.
    It matters what your site looks and feel like. It also depends on what type of person you are expecting to visit your site. I can’t have annoying pop ups and other items to destruct a potential customer. If he came to the site for a certain keyword he typed in google, he is more likely to want to see that related information than to be bothered with something else. So I believe to try to give a visitor what he is looking for and educate him at the same time. A person that feels he learned something from me, will more likely trust me and convert to be a client.
    I have slider on my home page that converts more visitors to be clients than the rest of the site. If you can make us a slider like that, it will be a homerun. For now I am using another plugin. http://commercialroofusa.com
    I promise this slider will not waste your time. check it out

  • Shane, you really put the problem in a nutshell, great post again! That is exactly what I encounter so often with my clients. Actually this is the difference between «playing marketing» and «making serious business». I guess the topic itself isn’t new – since there is an old saying «The worm has to taste good to the fish, not to the fisherman », gut these days it seems to be more prevailing than ever.
    One question: How did you make the titiling and the animation in this video? Looks great! Adobe After Effects?

  • Steve C says:

    Yep! That’s me your talking about. I’m working on the changes you prescribe Doc Melaugh and I’m getting better all the time.

  • Becoming a Thrive’s member is turning out to be one of the best things I’ve ever done in my blogging life.

    Had a good feeling about you Shane (and Paul) some years ago, it it’s been born out in spades.

    Keep up the great work, not to mention the inspiration!

    -Joe

  • Don says:

    Great points, Shane! Would you consider adding a forum / community / conversation / subreddit that focuses on up-to-the-minute elements that the Thrive community members are testing to improve conversion? I know for myself my biggest issue isn’t setting up the test, but discovering what the “low-hanging conversion fruit” might be, and then taking action. It would be awesome to give and get feedback on this.

    Your thoughts?

  • Yep, right on the spot Shane. That’s exactly what I see many of my clients doing – basing their opinions of their own websites on what they should do to increase sales.

    It NEVER works. Instead you have to test to see what works best to increase sales on your website – and to use every method available to do that – as you say – to increase your reach and sell more of your own product. Isn’t that why they are in business to start with?

    Thanks for the insights… Keep on doing what you’re doing…
    -Brett

  • Bob says:

    Thanks! I appreciate your marketing videos/posts. It is hard to put your own preferences aside for the sake of a sale. My pet peeve is autoplay videos with no volume control. Not sure what studies say about them… but I would never do that…

    My sites will always have no autoplay and always at least have a volume control. I don’t like pop-ups but will use them.

    Thanks again.

  • Mike Smith says:

    You’re right in saying we should ignore our own preferences , it’s a timely reminder to my self to revamp my own home page. thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • Karsten K says:

    Thank you for the interesting video, Shane.

    But please, don’t use the background music….this is really distracting.

    Who needs this music?

    I want to hear what you have to say and I have to concentrate even more when I am simultanously forced to hear this terrible elevator music.

    Thank you !!!

  • Donna R says:

    Shane, this post is so to the point. As a designer we can so easily get sucked in with all the little things that need to get fixed or updated.

    Thanks for reminding us that perfection doesn’t always bring the readers it’s the information they are looking for..

    Great Post….

  • Michael J says:

    Shane,

    I completely agree with you. ’nuff said!

  • Steve Nelson says:

    You are so on the money here Shane…

    To think there I was trying to decide between two shades of orange before I read this 🙂

    Seriously, the curse of the lone entrepreneur… We are not creating sites to please ourselves we are creating them to get results…

    As always great thoughts Shane…

    Steve

  • Mary Phillips says:

    Thanks Shane 🙂

    As always good information and it relates to me ~ Mea culpa! I must admit that I do get very confused about the AB testing so probably need to enlist the help of a pro for that aspect.

    Cheers,

    Mary

  • Sam L. says:

    Great post Shane as always. I am fairly new to Thrive Content Builder and Thrive Leads, but I am loving them. They are the best product I have ever purchased for my IM business. I would highly recommend them to anyone. This post really hits home, as it seems I am always thinking about what I like or dislike about my site instead of what my customers would like. Great Point.

  • Jace says:

    Hi Shane, you’re spot on with this I feel! Thanks

  • Vic Yamauchi says:

    Shane, thanks for keeping it real…..

  • Larry says:

    Hi Shane,
    Great message! I too am guilty of tinkering with my website instead of split-testing new pages, headlines, optins etc.

    BTW, I purchased the “Thrive Content Builder” plugin and love it.
    It’s be far the fastest and most accurate way of building a page I have ever seen.

    Take care,
    Larry T

  • David C says:

    Totally agree with your statement. Website development has had strong creative focus, leaving conversion experience as an afterthought.

  • Charles T. says:

    This speaks up one of my big weaknesses, where I always aim for perfection at first attempt. How true it is. 🙁

    Need to get rid of my bad habit.

  • Paul says:

    How did you overcome this Shane? I know this is a problem, but being aware of it is only part of the solution – how did you enable yourself to focus your focus on only the things that matter, and let go of those small things?

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      A big thing for me was to realize that there’s zero value in things that haven’t been shipped. If you’re always procrastinating via perfectionism, then all the great ideas and projects that you are working on have no value. Your output is the same as that of someone who sits on a couch watching TV all day.

      More specifically, at the time many people were asking me about video production and video marketing. I kept writing notes about what a product could look like, but I always felt that I wasn’t good enough yet myself. Like I had to get more experience with video marketing before I could make a product worth buying. At some point I realized that this had been going on for probably a year or longer and I had helped exactly zero people with their video marketing. Even a mediocre product does a far better job than that.

      I realized that helping people was more important to me than getting everything 100% right.

      Apart from this realization, it’s just something that I practice and remind myself of continuously. I still have that perfectionist tendency, but I remind myself of this self imposed rule I have: ship it now, improve it later.

  • Just the truth. Thank you very much Shane for this to-the-point analysis.

    And I have to admit I am guilty of all the three points, too…

  • Andy says:

    Great recomendation!! Thanks for remind, Shane. Fantastic job!

  • Cynthia says:

    I love your videos and posts Shane. New to all things WP and creating websites/going online – it is like going to a very informative, yet non-boring online school! So glad I found Thrive Themes early on. (Love your logo/green)

    One day, perhaps you’ll have time and inclination to make a video on how to actually ‘launch’ a website?

    Thanks for all you all at Thrive do for everyone.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Hello Cynthia,

      Thank you for your comment! Can you tell me more about what you mean with “launching” a website? I have a webinar here that shows how to set a website up completely from scratch. Is that what you had in mind, or something else?

  • Max_G says:

    You 100% right. But. As a solopreneur a website also becomes your home in a way. Yes a chair is a chair, but…

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Yes, and that can be a good thing and a bad thing. Sometimes, you need to be able to take a bit of distance and view the site more objectively.

  • Big O Rivera says:

    Great Video. Sometimes this is where a good VA or Freelancer might come in. Having them do the tinkering will remove your personal taste from the process. You just tell them what to do and they do it.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Yes, that’s a good point. In general, I believe in specialization. If you’re the visionary/CEO of your company, you shouldn’t be doing design work and fiddling with technical details.

  • Jeanette S says:

    Thank you Shane! You have brought some big relief as I’ve struggled with making my pages look right (to me) when as you say their most important job is to showcase our product/service.. I am going to just get on with it and ‘spruce’ it up (or get someone else to when I can afford) at a later date. Thank you thank you thank you..and it came to me that what we may not like, customers/clients might..its not about us, its about them!

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you for your comment, Jeanette! Yes, that’s the right approach to take. You can always make the small changes later on.

  • David Fisher says:

    Wow, I often work for “designers” who are good at what they do but they are essentially print designers. So, they fuss over 1/8″ (an INCH not pixels) and just ignore how the page renders in responsive mode.
    Getting them to focus on conversions and what the mobilization does is a really difficult thing to get them to do.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Ah yes, that’s another issue. Truly good mobile design is still quite difficult to come by, I’ve found that as well.

  • Cherie says:

    Thank you for sharing a good perspective on using what works!

  • Atareti says:

    Can thrive themes be used on a website that isn’t wordpress?

  • Kevin Cheng says:

    Great post and I needed to hear this :). You really drove these points home to me effectively re being a perfectionist (which I am too) by saying you don’t like some things about your site here, too. Here you are, running a highly successful business with a set of awesome products (I’m a Thrive Membership customer) and you don’t like everything about your website? Well, I better not tinker with the wrong things now and get focused on the important lifeblood priorities of my business. Your message is not new, per se, but it bears special weight coming from someone as successful as you. Thanks for this kick in the pants!

  • Art Williams says:

    I’m thinking about ‘upping my game’ for the few websties I have. I bought the Thrive Content Builder plugin a little over a year ago. Do I need to pay to upgrade it? And….if so, would I perhaps be better off just buying the whole theme and plugin in yearly package?

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Hello Art,

      If you own Thrive Content Builder, you don’t have to pay anything to keep getting the latest version of it. If you want all the other plugins and themes, getting the membership package is the best way to go. 🙂

  • MajaCincovic says:

    Thanks for the post. Getting people to your site is only half the battle. Getting them to take action is the hard part.

  • Daniel says:

    Well, Shane, you’re right with what you’ve said, but only IF you want to get the maximum conversions whatever it takes. But you also have to accept, that there are guys like me who simple don’t want to annoy visitors with pop-ups when they want to leave the site. Yes, I could get some more list-entries by using that feature, but I don’t want to cause I (and many others) are really pissed off by it. Just an example: An actress can get more money if she shows her boobs, but some off them just doesn’t want to. And that’s totally fine.
    So in my opinion it’s ok that you offer features like that for those who want to use them. But I myself leave a site that spams pop-ups or is trying to delay me leaving it and will never come back to that site.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      In principle, I agree with you. The reason I made this post is because I see far more people being way too cautious and way too attached to their own opinions and feelings, than the other way around.

      For example, your statement about how much you hate pop-ups and how you’d never return to a site with pop-ups is totally valid. As the owner of a business-focused website, the question to ask is “are popup-haters the people I want to cater to?” – especially when compared to people who will sign up to your mailing list and potentially turn into customers. Even if you personally hate pop-ups, you should consider the option that using them might be better for your business. And my perspective is that I care more about the value I want to bring to the world through my businesses.

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