How can small websites, run by small teams, challenge, and sometimes overtake, benchmark companies in their sector? How has leboncoin been Hong Kong Email List able to beat all the classifieds publishers? How did Airbnb and other Meetic revolutionize entire economic sectors? How have large-scale retailers been reduced to buying pure players in order to exist on the internet? And why did some brilliant sites start to decline when they were taken on by established companies? Neither exceptional design nor cutting edge technology nor the budget invested makes a site successful. There are basic rules, little known but practiced by the most successful companies on the internet. By closely studying a number of sites over time, certain recurring modes of action appeared to me, which are present in the successes and absent in the failures. These practices may appear trivial or secondary; in terms of their impact, they are not.

A website can only do one thing at a time A site is first and foremost a blank page that you are free to fill in as you wish. The possibilities are endless. Anything that is coded in HTML can take place in one way or another. Hence the temptation to put everything into it. You have an e-commerce site: why not add a blog of tutorials to use your products, a community dimension with your customers, sections for recruitment, public relations, investor information, etc. ? From the customer’s point of view, it is imperative to have simple interfaces, each screen being dedicated to a main action (a top task ), and only one. A site is a product serving a central mission (buy, inform, entertain, connect, etc.), with all the necessary subtasks, but nothing more.

# 4. Your customers’ words matter more than your offer

Thus the customer can better use the service offered to him and for which he came, without distraction or loss. To offer other services, the solution is to offer dedicated sites (for example a subdomain for recruitment, another for tutorials, etc.), each time with a navigation structure centered on the main action. So Amazon is only a sales site; its cloud offering is separate, as are its Kindle Self-Publishing (KDP) and Print-on-Demand (CreateSpace) services. No confusion is possible for the users. Likewise, the Google search engine is distinct from Youtube and Gmail. Each interface is dedicated to a main action (search the internet, watch videos, manage your email). # 2. Technically everything is possible (or almost), but not everything is profitable (by many)


The temptation is great to create complex devices in the service of an optimal experience, and to want technical perfection for your website. With today’s computing power and advancements in data and machine learning, most digital services imaginable are possible when you put the money into them. No time has known such freedom to imagine new offers. The real limit is not so much that of financial resources as of profitability. More in digital than in any other field, it is easy to swallow fortunes in complex developments, miracle solutions and finally technological mirages. Because the developments ordered will be delivered and will work, but will they produce results? Are they of value? The reasonable way to control your technical investment is to start as small as possible, that is, to design the most basic and stripped-down version of the product,

# 5. Design is not a matter of taste but of efficiency

with only the features absolutely necessary for its operation. In jargon, this is called the minimum viable product (MVP). Once this minimal product is launched, it allows you to start measuring the return on investment, and therefore the relevance of the offer. It is then possible on the one hand to correct this prototype based on user feedback, and on the other hand to add features to improve it. And every fix or addition of functionality follows the same pattern: minimal design and impact measurement. The MVP goes hand in hand with another principle: to use open source bricks as much as possible , and to develop only what does not yet exist and which is essential for the service. Here again, it is a question of cultivating the technical sobriety necessary to maintain profitability.

The iterative and progressive approach makes it possible both to contain technological expenditure and to verify the profitability of each stage of the investment. “Agile methods” formalize these practices; but even without calling it that, starting small requires this process. Hence the advantage of start-ups over large companies, which tend to plan and invest heavily right away. # 3. There is no final version of a site Many executives want to know when their site will be “finished”. As we have seen, a good website will never be completed, it will always be a beta version awaiting further improvement. Can’t we hope to stabilize a version that works well and exploit it over time? The reality of the digital world prevents it; something is always changing, whether it be the equipment and habits of Internet users,

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