Continuous Improvement and the busyness trap

You want to be agile. You want to realize value for your customers as fast as possible. And you want to get better every time you do something. Great! But beware! You might get caught in the busyness trap.

Your website is out there running for some time. You’re quite happy with it, but, of course, as time passes by, you find more and more things to improve. You don’t like the shade of blue on that button, or you come up with a fancier way to write that headline because you want to strengthen a keyword for your ranking at Google, etc.

As you have a website, you’re able to churn out code changes in no time and your site evolves. Or does it?

Loosing Focus

Being able to implement changes really fast can lead you down the wrong path. Whenever an idea strikes you or you see a cool feature somewhere else, you’re very easily tempted to “just do it”. What you skip is asking yourself a few very important questions:

  • How does this add value for our users?
  • Is this the single most important thing to bring our site forward?
  • How can I measure whether this is a success?

Without answering those questions for everything you do, the probability is quite high that you keep yourself (or your team) busy without going anywhere. I’ve seen it happen that you change the color of a headline one day, and a couple of weeks later you change it back again – just because now you think the original color was nicer.

Put your users first

By asking yourself how a thing adds value and whether it’s the single most important thing to do right now, you put your users first. You take one step back and make sure that you prioritize your work based on what serves your users best. That’s the way to make them happy and come back!

Measure Success

But even thinking about what might help your users is not enough. You’d better be sure that what you think really makes things better. To be sure, you have to identify success criteria (e.g. the PI/visit ratio increases, the number of conversions increases, or the bounce rate for a certain area drops) and measure it before and after releasing your change.

Putting your users first and measuring success prevents you from getting caught in the busyness trap. It will profit your users and you!

What about you? Have you ever lost your focus and been carried away by too many changes too fast without reconnecting with what’s really important? Share your experience in the comments!

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