At the last Gatsby Days conference a couple months ago, I gave a talk about how to talk about Gatsby to your clients or team. See a recording of that talk here. This post is a compliment to that talk and goes into a bit more detail on how to talk about Gatsby to a less-technical audience.
When you’re a developer, choosing the best tool for the job is essential in doing great work but then you may have to convince another stakeholder about your choice. Or if you work with clients, letting them know why you chose a certain tech stack is important because it may impact the final product.
So how do you explain all the technical nuance to an audience that doesn’t work in frontend website development every day?
I’ve worked at tech companies large and small over the past decade and one thing I’ve learned over the years is that highly skilled technical people can have a hard time explaining deep technical concepts to a not-as-technical audience. This makes sense because since there is so much to know about certain topics, it’s difficult to know where to start and how to simplify the concepts and still be accurate. To help, I’ve put together some thoughts on how to position Gatsby to your clients and team members.
1. Know your audience
When talking to a client, marketer, or any team member, consider what they care about. Why do they need a website and what do they need it for? What are they trying to achieve?
The website goal could be to increase brand awareness, generate leads, sell products, increase revenue, or a combination of several of these. But they may not care that a website development tool leverages React or that it’s the cool new tool among developers. Some business outcomes that marketers and others may care about include:
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- Lead conversion
- Bounce rates
- Team Productivity
Keep your audience and their priorities in mind and be sure to talk about these things when you recommend tools for the job. I’ll dive into a few of these business outcomes later.
2: Keep it simple
You don’t need to be completely, 100%, totally technically accurate! For example, my Dad is an electrical engineer. He’s very detail oriented and when he explains engineering concepts to me, it’s usually a long explanation that is 100% accurate and includes every subtle nuance of the topic. Usually, this is overwhelming and completely unnecessary. Sorry Dad! Just keep it simple and short. I only need to know what’s relevant to me.
For example, instead of explaining the detailed ins and outs of React and static site generators, explain in simple terms what you can do with Gatsby that is different than the alternative. For example:
With a website framework (like Gatsby), the website is pre-built and hosted on the edge before the user even types in a URL. This means that there are no servers involved or delays in loading a webpage. It’s just ready to go. Think of it as going to a conveyor belt sushi bar and having all the delicious sushi just waiting for you. No need to order- just pick what you want and start eating. Conveyor belt sushi for websites!
Since the entire website is pre-built, this translates into blazing fast page load times. By blazing fast, I mean the pages can load so quickly that it seems instantaneous and on slower connections and mobile phones, the experience is still fast. Fast sites translate into higher revenue (for e-commerce sites), a better user experience, and greater lead conversion. I was on a cross country flight recently and had a poor internet connection. The only websites I could get to load on my computer were Gatsby sites. That gives a company a huge advantage if their site loads on a slow connection when their competitors’ sites don’t.
3. Focus on the outcome
When you know your audience, then you can start to frame the discussion around what they care about. For a marketer, business manager, and many engineering managers, they care about business outcomes. So let’s look at each of the benefits from above:
SEO (Search Engine Optimization): SEO is a high priority for marketers and content creators. They spend a lot of time writing compelling content and crafting a narrative around their products, services, and brand. An SEO-optimized website means a higher organic search ranking and more website traffic, which can translate into leads and revenue. Many marketers have the ability to increase the quality of their content but not as much impact in increasing the website’s performance, which is a key factor in SEO and search rankings for both mobile and desktop. Marketers can spend so much time optimizing content for SEO but then get blasted with a slow website. It’s a frustrating experience to get penalized for something you can’t control. For more about how Gatsby improves SEO, see Gatsby and SEO.
Lead Conversion: Many websites are optimized for lead conversion. Marketers need to capture leads (get a person’s email address or other contact information) to follow up with marketing/sales materials, answer questions, and sell their products/services. When a website is slow, it greatly impacts lead conversion rates because less people will spend the time to fill out a form if the page takes longer to load. In fact, mobile websites that take more than 3 seconds to load have a 53% bounce rate. That means you’re losing over half of your website visitors! And for e-commerce, some estimates say you lose up to 1% in revenue for every 100ms delay in page load time. The longer it takes a page the load, the more customers/leads/revenue you lose. No one wants that.
Team Productivity: How a team works together significantly impacts the work, including the finished product and meeting key milestones. Almost every manager and stakeholder wants their team to have the tools needed to do the best possible job. So when talking to a client, manager, or stakeholder, be sure to emphasize the impact web dev tools have on the team. As an example, if you’re a content creator and need to write 5 blog posts in a week, imagine if you didn’t have access to a computer and had to hand-write everything with ink and a feather pen. Impossible! You need the right tools for the job, otherwise you’ll end up doing a lot of extra work and potentially wasting time.
Revenue: Generating revenue with your website is especially important for e-commerce sites. If an e-commerce company doesn’t get a high enough ROI (return on investment), then they may be out of business in a few months. In fact, leading e-commerce beauty site Adore Beauty found that faster page load times resulted in a 16.5% increase in conversion rates and a consistent improvement in revenue. The less time it takes a page to load, the more money you make. Marketers, managers, and sales care about this deeply.
4. Give examples
Give examples of websites that use the tech stack you’re recommending for the project and speak to the benefits that matter to your audience. At Gatsby, we have several case studies and the Gatsby site showcase, which highlights some of the latest Gatsby sites. Reference the site showcase or any of the case studies on our blog. I’ve included a list of current case studies and other resources below. And here are a few specific examples to choose from:
SEO for the Win!: In a recent case study with Harry’s, Johnny Lin (Engineering Manager) and his team needed to launch a new website to support the launch of a new brand, Flamingo. Flamingo is an e-commerce site that sells shaving products for women. The Flamingo team was preparing a big product launch on a tight timeline and needed a stable, secure website that was optimized for SEO. They knew they needed high search rankings to compete in this competitive market and a Gatsby website was the perfect fit. Johnny talked about the importance of the website:
— Johnny Lin
We wanted to focus on performance at the beginning of the project, having it baked in. It’s easier than trying to make an already built website perform later. And as an e-commerce site, performance (SEO and conversion) is super important and Gatsby takes care of this for us.
60% More Leads: Zach Muha, Director of Digital Marketing with Youfit Health Clubs, depended on the website to attract new customers. But their site was bogged down with excruciatingly slow page load times (some pages took 22 seconds to load!). This led to a high bounce rate which was killing the lead conversion numbers. Since rebuilding the site with Gatsby, Youfit saw a 22% increase in organic search results and a 60% increase in lead conversion. Prior to the website rebuild, Youfit Health Clubs viewed their website as an “add-on” because the team did not see it as critical to the success of the company. But now that they are experiencing first-hand the benefits of Gatsby, their website has become a primary channel for lead generation.
Easy Onboarding for the Team: For the Flamingo website launch, it was important that the team worked well together since they were working on a tight timeline. There was no room for major miscommunications or big errors. But because of Gatsby’s excellent documentation and ease of use, Johnny felt confident his team would be successful. He even had confidence in new team members handling the post-launch support.
We were able to allow newer teammates to be part of the on-call for the launch because Gatsby made it so easy to maintain.
Return on Investment: When Youfit Health Clubs did a complete site overhaul with Gatsby, they found the page load times decreased by at least a half. Lead conversion rates increased as more people were able to access the website and sign up for a free trial which led to more revenue. By using Gatsby, Youfit significantly increased their organic traffic, lead capture, and ROI.
— Zach Muha, Director of Digital Marketing @ Youfit
We are very happy with the results so far, especially the 60% increase in leads. The website went from a burden to a strategic tool we use to capture leads and generate ROI.
Case studies like the ones above can help show (not just tell) a team member or client what they can expect with Gatsby. So when talking to a marketer, client, or coworker, be sure to touch on the points that are important to them. Let them see what Gatsby can do for them and how it can impact the team, outcomes, and the business.
Case Studies and Other Resources:
Flamingo, women’s body care brand from Harry’s, chooses Gatsby for critical e-commerce launch, 5X faster page loads Beyond Static: Hapticmedia uses Gatsby to a build dynamic web app Youfit uses Gatsby to increase lead generation by 60% SendGrid Knowledge Center cuts page load times in half with Gatsby IBM Uses Gatsby to Manage Enterprise-Level Content Building a large, internationalized e-commerce website with Gatsby at Daniel Wellington