Reflect on the past year. What worked? What didn’t?

Part of a website’s charm is that it is not forever fixed. Take advantage of this by making savvy adjustments in response to your audience. This begins by reflecting back on the work you did on your website in the past year, and how your audience responded.

The end of one year—or start of the next—is a perfect time to look at your website’s user statistics. Pay special attention to the outliers on your website. These are the pages and posts that racked up the big numbers, or that barely registered anyone outside your immediate family. Look beyond just how many hits they received—what pages and posts led to leads or actual sales? Which ones never did? These are the pieces of content that hold the most valuable information as you form your plan for the new year.

Don’t forget about where your visitors came from, too.

Equally important is reviewing what channels they took to get to your website. Are your social media or outside marketing efforts paying off? Where could they improve? Where might you want to trim back and refocus to get more value?

Use this time to really take a clear look at your past year’s worth of effort. The goal here is to optimize and refine to build on the progress you’ve already made, not repeat it.

Create a plan for improvement.

Now that you’ve glanced back at how your website performed over the past year, it’s time to pull out the goals you have for your website as a whole. This will be the guide you use to make your plan for the new year.

Renew or invest in a maintenance plan.

If you have already been working with a developer to maintain and manage your website in the past year, take some time to check on when that will be up for renewal. Even if it’s not a for a while yet, doing this now will be helpful so you are not scrambling later.

If you have not yet invested in a maintenance plan, I highly advise doing so. Remember how I said websites are not forever fixed? This is also true of the languages and technology that they are built on. Making sure everything is up-to-date keeps your website running smoothly, securely and safely.

Set your intentions for this year. Make them realistic.

Now that you have taken the time to review your website’s performance and match it up to the goals you have for it, it’s time to outline the adjustments you can realistically make this year. Only you can truly answer this question, but here are some questions to help get you started:

  • What’s missing that is essential to meeting your goals?
  • Have any of your goals changed or evolved? What needs to change to meet them?
  • What worked really well this past year? How can you replicate that? Can you apply a similar strategy elsewhere?

The answers to these questions will create an outline of priorities for your website for the coming year. Even if this new outline is not drastically different from the intentions you originally had, this process will help reinforce them as you begin another year. Your website will be on the right path to getting—and staying in—its best shape ever.

The key to website growth: Build on last year's progress. Don't repeat it.