By Victoria Greene

You’ve thought about it for a long while, done your research, checked your budget and finally settled on what you want. But whether you’re buying a brand new car, or launching a website, you just can’t know how it’s going to work out until you get going. You may have had a spin in the same make and model, but every car has its own quirks, and there’s nothing quite like being at the wheel of an automobile that you own.

In much the same way, no matter how much you may have dabbled in web design for other people’s businesses, or tried your hand in a particular industry, it is a whole different story when you are heading up your own business venture, attempting to steer it along the road to success.

At face value, this might seem like an empty metaphor, but there are more similarities than you may expect between the requirements for keeping your car on the road and for keeping your website running smoothly.

That ‘New Car Feel’

The early days are busy and interesting. You’ll be keen to test your limits, explore new vistas, and get a feel for how everything works. The chances are you will also be meticulous about every detail, checking all the numbers over and over, even though you know they will barely have changed.

You may even be making an extra effort to spread the word, letting friends and family know, and inviting them to stop by and take a look. Yet it takes a few weeks to truly feel comfortable at the wheel, to adjust the seats to the right distance and angle, and to find the perfect setting for the thermostat.

Meanwhile, in the days following the launch of your website, you may find yourself waiting for more hits to roll in. An initial spike in traffic will occur when the people you know pay your site a visit, and perhaps make a purchase to show their support.

However, as the weeks go by you will begin to spot trends in your consumer data, learn to identify common exit pages, and work to reduce your bounce rate. You’ll learn more about what your audience wants, both from their interactions, and from their feedback. After a while, the initial excitement of the launch will pass, yet you will then be more focused on building and developing the success of your website.

You will still want to conduct regular A/B tests to ensure that you’re capitalizing on your brand’s potential. Don’t become complacent and let things stagnate. Product photography is something that’s especially important to split test, as simple adjustments like social proof and size can make a big difference so conversion rates.

Regular Tune-Ups

Once in awhile, you should give your engine the opportunity to clear itself. Lots of small trips, while they may be convenient, can cause some engines to become black. However, mixing in the occasional longer drive will enable them to vent, ultimately protecting the exhaust.

On your website, these variations are reflected in your content. A range of different topics, at different lengths, and in different styles will keep your audience interested. Meanwhile, with around 88% of consumers claiming a preference for retailers that deliver connected cross-channel experiences, now is as good a time as any to try something new.

It is never enough to assume that because something is running smoothly that it will continue to do so. In fact, you should conduct regular tests, and take immediate action to avoid common pitfalls and counter anything unusual. For example, if your engine began rattling, you would seek to have it looked at, rather than waiting for the problem to dislodge itself of its own accord.

Salvage Potential

Of course, it is worth remembering that you do not necessarily need to invest in a brand new car. You might pick up a second hand, but reliable vehicle that needs a little work, but can still serve you well for a few more years. On the other hand, you could spot a derelict wreck that still has promise. This may take quite a bit more time, effort, and money to return to a serviceable state, but it will be a sight to behold once the work is done.

In a similar vein, you may come across websites that have great potential for success, but simply need some work doing. Maybe the site owner has run short of time, or simply lost interest. Whatever the reason, this could be the perfect opportunity for you to salvage a neglected site, and restore it to its former glory.

Equally, just as you may be inclined to buy a second hand car simply to save on costs, many web developers, rather than starting from scratch, seek out struggling sites on marketplaces and restore them for profit.

Just remember to investigate the history of any website you plan to purchase, Much like checking a car’s log book, this enables you to gain a clearer picture of the website’s potential, and makes you aware of any problems that may need to be addressed.

Familiarity Fosters Trust

According to a 2016 study by Accenture, almost two thirds of consumers claimed they were more likely to use a retailer who remembered their purchase history. Offering personalized recommendations based on this history was also found to have a positive impact on customers’ willingness to buy.

In term of car sales, this is equivalent to going back to the same dealer, because they remember your name, know what you like to drive, and you’ve come to trust them through your previous transactions. The same even applies to the cars themselves; most drivers are more inclined to favor makes and models with which they have previously had positive experiences.

When it comes to web development, you may not know the names of each visitor to your site, nor be there to greet them, but your website can. Enabling customers to create individual accounts means you can not only learn from their browsing habits and purchases, but also offer a more personalized service.

And of course, this tailored experience boosts engagement and lets your customers feel more connected to your brand. This in turn increases their trust in your business, making them more likely to return to your website, use your services, and purchase your products.

So there you have it; whether you have your eye on the web-flipping equivalent of a ramshackle DeLorean, or you’re planning a website launch to rival the Tesla Roadster, the secret is to maintain your website with the same care and attention an automobile enthusiast would give to their cars.

Every website has different requirements, will run into different problems, and have its own quirks that persist no matter what you do. Yet with regular tune-ups, an ear to the engine, and a careful eye on the road ahead, you can maintain a popular and successful website that will run smoothly for years to come.