I consider strategy to be crucial to any real success of a solid online product. In my mind, there are three basic stages:
Stage 1: Before the launch of any product correct decision making based on research must be used to choose the applicable frameworks, tools and resources. There is no substitute for due diligence and asking the correct questions at this stage. A comprehensive design document with personnas or user stories, comparative analysis, and user surveys create the perfect starting roadmap.
Stage 2: After a product is launched to a test group or publicly, a baseline should be established using metrics. From this point future challenges can be defined which may have been previously invisible. In my experiences these have included:
- Security issues
- Usability issues
- Domain issues
- Programming issues or bugs
Stage 3: Optimization of the product occurs at this stage. This strategic stage might also include integrated marketing plans, copy and communication tweaks, ad campaigns, SEO, SEM, and re-calibrations of business goals based on metric evidence.
All of these stages can be surprising to the stakeholders in that even the best projects have considerable unknowns and incorrect assumptions.
The key to any strategy is to remain flexible and adaptive in the face of any challenge.