In all the excitement of getting a new website, or redesigning an existing one that has gone stale, an important question often gets left unanswered: why is it that you want a website?
It seems like a ridiculous question; a website is just a part of doing business anymore, no different than getting business cards printed or getting a listing in the yellow pages. Despite that, it’s a very important question to consider. While it’s generally much more interesting to focus on other things (site features, look and feel, etc.), developing goals for your website will have far more long-reaching benefits.
There are lots beautiful websites that are completely ineffective, and some downright ugly sites that get the job done. Guess which one will benefit your business more?
Why It Matters
So why is this such an important question? Thinking through why you want a website forces you to starting thinking about the website as a means to an end, rather than an end unto itself. After all, you want a website to accomplish something; you’re not investing in a website for that warm and fuzzy feeling that comes with website ownership.
So if that website is out there to do something, what is that something and how are you going to determine whether it’s successful?
If you build a website without any clear ideas of what you want it to accomplish, odds are it’s not going to accomplish much of anything. When you start from the beginning with clear goals in mind, you can design the entire website to support those goals.
A Goal-Setting Example:
Let’s say that your help desk is getting swamped with calls and emails, the majority of which are asking simply questions about your products. You want to reduce the number of inbound contacts your help desk is fielding to avoid having to bring on additional staff.
After some number crunching, you determine that your goal is to lower the number of calls about product questions by 50%. To do this, you plan to do the following:
- Build out a thorough set of frequently asked questions
- Make the FAQs easy to read, navigate, and search
- Focus the design of the site to highlight these FAQs to make them as easy for the customer to find as possible
- Optimizing your site for search engines to allow your customers can find their answers directly from Google
You can measure the success of these efforts by comparing your inbound calls and emails before and after launching, and by looking at the traffic your FAQ pages are getting.
By carefully monitoring traffic, and by evaluating the inbound contacts you are still getting, you should be able to identify blind spots and improve your content over time.
The Take Away
Setting and prioritizing measurable goals will help you focus on what’s important, and give you a clear path to build on success.