If you have determined your website is due for a redesign, now is the time to start setting your goals for it. Before you think about color schemes, visual eye candy, or even a budget, determining what your website goals are will help guide all other aspects of the planning and design of the site. Yes, even before determining your budget, you should set your goals. Then based on your budget, you can scale your goals accordingly.
I speak to a lot of business owners about their websites. There is a surprising variety of goals that I hear from these business owners as to what they are seeking. While I’m no fan of design by committee, I do see that most of the best goal setting for a website redesign comes from a company where multiple staff or department heads are consulted. Different departments have different vantage points on the business and thus can see different needs that may not be obvious to others – even the business owner.
To give you a head start on ideas for your goals, I’ll give you a peak into some of the most common goals I’ve heard from clients during my 17 years with NetSource:
Goal 1 – “I Want to Drive More Traffic to My Website”
A good goal to have, but not an end goal. You can have all the traffic in the world, but not make any money with your site. However, if you have a site that does a good job of converting traffic to leads and sales, then more traffic should naturally lead to more business. So look at this goal in the larger context of the performance of the website. This is also an easy goal to track assuming you have Google Analytics set up on your existing website (you do have Google Analytics set up, right?) and continue using it on your new site.
Goal 2 – “I Want the Site to Provide Better Lead Generation”
This is a very common goal from most service-oriented businesses and those selling higher-end products that are not sold directly through their website. This is known as a conversion – a visitor to the site has now taken the important next step and contacted a business for more information about their products or services – with a phone call, by launching a Chat window, or by filling out an email Contact form.
Goal 3 – “I Want to Sell More Products” (Online)
If you are an online retail business, then this is an obvious and top goal. Setting realistic projections is important and results are typically easy to monitor. You can track sales and e-commerce conversions in your Google Analytics.
Goal 4 – “I Want to Sell More Products” (Offline)
A variation of the “sell more” goal and usually another way of asking for better lead generation. This goal comes from clients who sell their product in person, but want to promote via the website to generate more interest and inquiries.
Goal 5 – “I Want to Promote a Service” or “I Want to Promote My Business”
Occasionally business owners will state a goal of business promoting in general. If you have this as a stated goal, you will probably want to determine more specifics to support this goal.
Goal 6 – “I Want to Educate/Inform My Visitors”
This is a goal for websites that are trying to build more engagement with visitors or train them on how a product or service offering relates to their wants and needs. For example, a nursery that sells plants may provide training on how to best prepare soil for particular plants types or what types of plants grow well in proximity to one another. In this situation, the customer gets post-sale useful tips they can apply to the products they purchased as well as pre-sell them on other products available from the website.
Goal 7 – “I Want to Improve My Site Performance” or “I Want to Improve SEO on My Website”
Improving site performance, whether it’s faster load times on mobile devices or better visibility in the organic search rankings, is a good goal that is frequently referenced. Questions to ask to further define the goal are “Why?” and “How?” The former question is more geared to us developers to determine, but both should be addressed by the business owner to define how this plays into their overall redesign plans.
Goal 8 – “I Want a Mobile Friendly Website”
Mobile has had a tremendous impact on how we view and develop websites. Over 50% of Google’s search traffic is from mobile devices. Many sites are now built as “Mobile First” – it’s not that you make your traditional website look good on mobile, instead you make your mobile website look good on a traditional computer. Smart business owners are asking about mobile and making that a goal of their new site.
Goal 9 – “I Want to Sell Products Online”
When it is time for a promotional website to become a sales tool, business owners will state this goal. Usually, the addition of an e-commerce store to a brick-and-mortar based store drastically increases market reach and improves total sales. We have even seen businesses convert completely to website sales only, closing their physical storefronts and conducting all their business through their website. This may or may not be you’re ultimate goal, but adding e-commerce to increase sales is a great goal to have.
Goal 10 – “I Want to Improve Customer Service”
Businesses that struggle to effectively field customer inquiries and complaints in a timely fashion, or find doing this is too resource intensive, can use their site to act as a 24/7 customer service rep. Resources such as an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page, Resource Wikis, Help Desks, training materials, access to product manual downloads, etc., can all be ways of allowing the customer to help themselves, resolving questions without having to contact you. Live Chat services or integration with social media accounts (both of which you actively monitor) are pro-active methods you can use on your website to improve customer service.
Goal 11 – “I Want to Improve Our Security”
I commonly hear this goal request from users that have a WordPress site that has been hacked one to many times, or who didn’t previously realize they were collecting sensitive data in a manner that is not secure. Shockingly, I still see businesses with un-secure employment forms collecting social security numbers and driver’s licenses or homemade e-commerce carts emailing credit card data to the site owner – don’t be that site!
Goal 12 – “I Want to Automate Internal Systems and Free Up Resources”
Some business owners have repetitive, monotonous tasks that they want their website to handle for them. For example, a doctor’s office may want to automate new patient forms by letting the patient fill out all their information before they show up for their appointment, thus reducing patient wait time in lobby and time spent by staff acquiring the information or re-keying it into the computer system.
Goal 13 – ” I Want to Recruit New Employees” or “I Want to Recruit New Dealers/Wholesalers/Partners/Etc.”
Your website is the first place a prospective employee will research to find out if your business is a match for them. This goal is common from businesses that want to better promote the benefits of their work place and provide all necessary information for applying. Recruiting is not limited to employees either, as business owners can target dealers and other potential distributors as well as possible business partners.
Goal 14 – “I Want to Provide Resources to Clients”
This is usually via a customer login where privileged information is made available. Builders commonly have this as a goal for their new website so they can share project documents with their clients and sub-contractors, although it is a feature that can be useful for almost any business type.
Goal 15 – “I Want to Reduce Website Management Time” or “I Want to Simplify the Management of the Website”
A common complaint I hear from new customers is that their old site is too difficult to maintain. Maybe it is using some proprietary code that only one person on the planet can edit, and that person never answers their phone or email but once a month. Or the site has a content management system to allow them to edit it in-house, but the UI for it doesn’t function in any logical manner. Or in some cases still, the client is using Dreamweaver (or FrontPage!!!) to make changes to HTML code that continues to get bogged down with extraneous filler. A website built on a properly functioning and easy to use content management system is a good goal to have in any of these scenarios.
Goal 16 – “I Want the Site to Integrate With Other Online Services”
The web is filled with third party applications and online services. As a result, many business owners will state goals oriented towards integrating their website with one or more of these tools. Examples may be: integrating a specific accounting tool with an e-commerce shopping cart, displaying MLS data, or linking a scheduling tool with an online registration system.
Goal 17 – “I Want to Attract Investors”
You may have a startup business or a new product you are developing. So in some cases, a business owner may want a website that strictly appeals to investors.
Goal 18 – “I Want to Make More Money”
Why did I post this last when it is probably the most common goal I hear? It is because it is the most obvious and pretty much goes without saying. Almost every other goal listed above is a more specific goal towards reaching this goal. If you are a business owner, I am already assuming this is your goal, and we are already taking that goal into consideration for any new project we work on here at NetSource.
Once your goals have been established, the rest of the planning for your new website begins to fall in place.
This article is the second in an ongoing series! Be sure to visit us often to catch the rest of our Business Website Success articles.