Florian Walter: I’m going to get straight to the point - which three hashtags describe the special features of this project for you?
Thomas Esders: Hashtags? Alright ... here they are:
#agile all around
FW: Well, please give us some explanations.
TE: Aha (laughs). Okay, "radical" is likely something everyone will notice when visiting the site. The most concise part: The start page consists of a minimal menu with only three bullet points, on a monochrome ground. Even the Bitmotion logo will be displayed late.
This idea was born when we looked at the analysis data and noticed: To be honest, almost all users are initially interested in exactly these three areas. So why not focus everything on these areas while radically omitting everything else?
FW: Which also supports the aspect “simple”.
TE: Exactly. It was a very painful consideration for us, but in the end, we went with the guideline "less is more" in all other areas and simply left out quite a few things. A special question is: Should an agency site also be a "showcase", thus demonstrating certain great things that can be done on the web like this? This includes established things like an enterprise search as well as avant-garde stuff, e.g. Marketing Automation. In the end, we opted for the user-friendly version, namely: Only the important stuff has the right to exist, everything else distracts. That’s why we have no showcase elements.
FW: I see, “simple” and “radical” belong together. “Agile” seems like a completely different area to me. But why add the term “all around”?
TE: Because this is not about the fact that we use Scrum. Rather, the general way of thinking in conception and implementation, to achieve a fast go-live and continuous improvement. First, we must confess openly that it took far too long for us to really get going.
The old story with the shoemaker and the footwear ... One always focuses on customer tasks first and hopes that one day there will be enough free time to create a website. Which, of course, never happens. And making use of an external agency is out of the question ... But in all seriousness, when we finally got through it, it happened quite fast. And that was thanks to the aforementioned agile approach, both in conception and design as well as in implementation and editing.
FW: How did that work?
TE: Well, apart from aspects like "iterative" and "sprint-based", it was important for us to get away from 100% perfectionism. Often times we said it’s "good enough" and everything else was marked as "possibly after go-live". This even applies to content, i.e. editorial content. And lo and behold - we were live pretty fast!
"Since Go-Live we decide which improvement comes next each week."
What we have promised ourselves and really adhere to is this: After the go-live, we do not stop, but decide once a week, which improvement ideas offer the most value and should be addressed next. And we really do that, there is always some time we reserve for just that.
FW: But that cannot be a model for big customers.
TE: Oh no, it absolutely is! Especially in demanding environments, this is the big art, otherwise you’re left with "chewing gum projects", and no one really wants those. But you also must admit that organizing this process can be quite a challenge. The classical way of thinking with acceptance / launch / project end is still widespread in Germany, but on the other hand company groups have an awareness for problems and an astonishing readiness for following new ways.
FW: Back to bitmotion.de: Have there been any developments after Go-Live and if so where?
TE: For example, we have worked a lot on the details of navigation and language switching. Other things we have tried and rejected: Analysis data showed us that individual users get stuck with the introductory photo of the main pages and they do not immediately realize that you can scroll here. There are ways to "tease" this scrolling, but because it's pretty easy to figure out, and we have not "lost" anyone because of that, the decision was made in favour of design purism in this case. A whole series of other improvements have been made for technical details, e.g. links and SEO features.
FW: You have already mentioned the keyword analysis data twice. Can you say more about that?
TE: Sure: As of now, we primarily use Google Analytics, which is mainly because we also use Adwords. We were able to track user behavior on the previous website we had on this basis very well and therefore we knew not only about strengths and weaknesses, we also had ideas for fundamental improvement for a long time. In the current "hot phase" after the go-live, there is a second tool that specifically helps us: Hotjar. There are, among other things, the well-known "heat maps", kind of like "where do users really click when they visit this page?" In addition, you can watch the whole thing but also each user session as a "movie" – it’s very exciting! Of course, you do not know whose clicks you're looking at, but that's not what this is about at all - it's about seeing "live" how well or poorly something you've come up with works.
FW: How much effort is put into the whole relaunch?
"Spending a lot of time on conception is an absolute recommendation!"
TE: Altogether surprisingly little, namely far less than 50 days. Of course, we do not have a big website and no complex special functions. On the other hand, we deliberately put a lot of time into the conception and, as always, it shows that this is very well spent time.
Anyway, we are proud of the result and welcome the feedback of our users!