Setting objectives for your website design
Why have website objectives?
Part of the web design process is to establish what you want your website to achieve. Once you know this, setting and monitoring the website’s objectives is key to its long term success.
By having clear objectives from the start, you can stay focussed on what the website is designed to achieve, not just what you think should be improved at a given moment.
Your goals also form the backbone of your website marketing. For example, if your website is all about getting people to download brochures, then you know that your social media campaigns, email marketing and other forms of traffic acquisition, will all need to be centred around this goal.
How to define website objectives
There are five main areas that objectives fall under, so the first step is to define what your website can offer each area.
- Sales – your website should most likely be generating sales or quality leads.
- Customer Service – think about how you can your website as part of your customer service offering. For example by providing your contact details and answers to frequently asked questions.
- Reducing Costs – could your website save money? For example, by putting information online you could reduce print, postage and service costs.
- Customer Interaction – a website doesn’t have to be a one-way street. Could you use it to allow customers to communicate with you through content such as surveys, articles and competitions?
- Building your brand – what experience do you want your website visitors to have and how does that fit in with your brand?
Go through the steps above and think how the website can achieve each one. Don’t get into too much detail just yet as this will be covered when you devise a content plan later in the website planning process.
Measure your objectives
The way in which you measure objectives needs to be meaningful and not just based on visitor numbers. For your website objectives to be useful, you need to create goals that relate to each one.
These goals could then be tracked with your website analytics (e.g. Google Analytics) and / or set up as reports so that you can see if your website is achieving the desired results.
Some examples of measurable goals that you might create are:
- Appointment request forms returned
- Sample requests
- Call back requests
- Online purchases
- FAQs page visits
- Enquiry form submissions
- Clicked email links
- PDF downloads (reduces print and postage)
- Online enquiries (saves time)
- Live chat sessions (saves telephone costs)
- Survey completions
- Competition entries
- Article page visits
- Event sign ups
- Registration form submissions
- Website feedback forms
- Video views
- Time spent on key pages
Once you have goals in place, you can devise the tactics required to achieve the goals. Below are examples of our website goals and the tactics we employed to achieve them:
- Generate quality enquiries by showing experience, clients and case studies
- Enquiry form and email links tracked in Google Analytics
Objective: Client Service and Cost Reduction
- Provide online support for website customers
- Replace printed support material with web pages
- New vs Returning visitors accessing the online guide gives an idea of how useful people find it
- Popular pages in the guide can identify common requirements, unpopular pages help identify features customers don’t know about or aren’t interested in
- The online guide does not require which saves printing costs
Objective: Customer Interaction
- Online registration and payment for training courses
- Successful online registrations via a third-party booking system
- Unique email address on training course pages to help attribute leads
Objective: Brand Building
- Promote case studies and articles through external channels to demonstrate our work and expertise
- Google Analytics goal tracking for enquiries that originate from social media and email campaigns
You can see that by having tactics in place, you already start to make decisions about your content plan. This in turn will influence your wireframes and ultimately your website design.
Proper planning isn’t just important when designing a website – proper planning designs your website for you!
Google Analytics and beyond
A lot of goals, especially ones based around content and interaction, can be tracked using web analytics such as Google Analytics. Find out more about how you can improve your website performance with Google Analytics goals.
There are also other tracking tools such as heat maps and live recording that can provide even more information on how your website functions in relation to its objectives.
By defining and setting your objectives and goals you can gain valuable insights into the real performance of your website. The data you acquire will let you evaluate what is working, what isn’t, and where improvements should be made.
This approach allows you to remove subjective decisions from the evolution of your website and instead have a focused marketing tool based on informed decisions that you can back up with data and reports. So next time someone asks “how’s our website doing?”, you’ll be prepared.