Following Best Practices to Realize Optimal Results

Best Practice: commercial or professional procedures that are accepted or prescribed as being correct or most effective.

I run a small web design company in a niche industry, and the primary focus on the websites we build is new customer acquisition.  In my line of work, “best practice”, is generally referring to standards in design, development, and marketing.  And when a foundation of “best practice” is applied, it makes optimizing a website for new customer acquisition that much easier.

Several days ago, as I was working with a client to wrap up a website, I made a suggestion to reduce the number of items in their main menu, as the Magic Number of 7 dictates that most people have a hard time holding more than 7 pieces of information in their head at a time.  They opted to keep more items in their menu because “I know this is against the industry rules, but as you know we love to break all the rules.” 

Sadly, I did know they like to break all the rules… they had gone against several of my best practice recommendations.  They weren’t breaking MY rules, they were going against “best practice”.  And unfortunately, those have natural consequences (as stated in the definition) of making the website less effective.

My client actually chose to make their website less effective, which in turn means that they will most likely get fewer customers (and in case you’re having a hard time following this logic… fewer customers leads to less revenue).  I think Josh Kaufman (The Personal MBA) described this situation best with his concept of Absence Blindness.  Here’s the basis of the concept:

“Here’s a curious fact about human beings: we have a really hard time realizing that something isn’t there.”

I’m betting that if my client could actually see the dollar signs lost with their decisions, they’d choose differently.  However, because they can’t see the effect of these decisions, it’s easier to feel like their a rogue cowboy breaking out of the mould, and doing something cavalier. (Lets face it… prospects don’t contact us to tell us why they didn’t purchase.)

Bottom line – follow best practices, see better results, make more money.