Getting a clear picture for what you want to do with your website will help you avoid a lot of headaches. There is a lot to learn once you're up and running and, if you're like me, you've had those moments when you're left scratching your head thinking, why isn't this doing what I wanted to do?
Website strategy, just like any other strategy should be intentional and focused on achieving goals. But if you're new to your particular business or new on the web in general you really need to do some planning for your website to make sure it's going to achieve the objectives you want it to achieve.
But do you even know what those are? Sure, everyone knows in the 21st century that you need to have a website, but do you know what having a website is going to help you accomplish?
You have probably thought through your business and generally what you expect to happen with your business. You've likely been through at least some level of strategic thinking on the subject by creating a business plan or even a basic game plan.
For your website to be successful you will want to go through those same kinds of strategic thinking that you did for your business. Always do your due diligence on the issue, but at the same time don't let yourself get bogged down in the details. Here are three steps to determining what you want your website to achieve.
Get a clear picture for what your website goals are
Do you know why you're building your website, or do you just know that you need one? If you're getting started and you're at the point where you're not really sure what you need out of a website other than the fact that you need one it's time to get a plan together.
It's really no different than any other strategic planning exercise. Some questions will be quicker and easier to answer than others. But for some, you need to dig in and really think it through. And some questions will most definitely lead to others. You need to know:
- Who is going to run your site (you, your secretary, your IT guy)?
- What content do you plan on having on your website?
- What kind of return you want to see from your website.
- Are you going to offer your products or services for sale through your website?
- Do you want to capture contact information (this one is a no-brainer)?
- How can you serve/enlighten/entertain your visitors?
- If you had to write a short mission statement for your website, what would it be?
Know who your target visitors are
If you've already got a brick and mortar business, this shouldn't be too hard. But even if you do, it's important to learn how these same people will use your site. Using tools like Google analytics will help you learn about how people are using your site. You need to figure out how that's going to match up with the types of visitors that you're looking to attract.
Who are these people?
- Are they students or industry pros?
- Are they your competitors?
- Are they acquainted with using social media?
- Are they current customers/clients?
- Are they prospective customers/clients?
- Are they web-savvy?
- What are the things they could be looking for on your site?
- What brought them here?
Know what you want visitors to do when they get to your site
This is probably the most important thing you can figure out when you've covered the other issues. Make a clear plan for what you want them to do whether it's sign up for a newsletter, or to buy a product.
Also – it's a good idea to prioritize what you want them to do, as there may be a few different options for things you want them to do. Start by asking what do I want them to do?
- Do you want them to buy a product?
- Do you want them to initiate contact?
- Do you want them to sign up for your newsletter?
- Do you want them to subscribe to a blog?
- How can you make it easy for a visitor on your website to achieve their objective?
Then figure out what incentive you're giving them to do what you want them to do.
Do they get a free report for signing up for a newsletter?
Is there a coupon that can be used for first-time customers to get free shipping?
How will you accomplish this?
A good rule to abide by is to make it as easy as possible for visitors to do what you want them to do on their site. Long contact forms are generally a bad idea. Make it easy for them to get in touch with you. If you have products on your site, make the checkout process easy. Don't put barriers in your own way!