There is one step in the website development process that is the cheapest step of all, but not investing in it can cause you tremendous issues. This step is defining: “What is the REAL GOAL of my website?”
I can’t emphasize it enough – and that’s why I wrote it with full capitals. If you don’t know what your website’s goal is then:
- you might miss a lot of income that you could otherwise make online
- your visitors won’t be sure if they are on the right place or not
- you’ll always be less confident about why your site is not producing the expected results
- it will be more difficult to decide what to add next your website
- you can’t really think about conversion funnels (you know, the methodology online marketers always talk about) while you don’t have a crystal-clear goal
- your blog posts will most probably won’t have the effect that they could if you had an exact goal
But how can you find or decide what your site’s REAL GOAL is? I’ll try to help you in this article.
There are several theories and practices about setting up website goals on the web. One of the most popular is the SMART Criteria. However there are lot of criticism about this methodology, an interesting one is the DUMB Goals theory by Michael D. Pollock…
Well, to make things simpler, I’ll add here my own method, which consists of only 3 criteria (easier than the 5-step and 4-step methods above, heh? 🙂 ).
1. A Good Website Goal doesn’t have a letter “s” in it
Yes, a good goal is only one goal, not 5 goal
s, not 3 goal s and not even 2 goal s. Only one goal, no “s” at the end!
Why is it so bad to have more goals?
If you have 5 different goals, how will you measure them? How will you track if you change something on your site, what effect it has on all 5 goals? Maybe big corporations can deal with the task, but you as a small business owner, will you have the capacity to track and analyze all the changes?
Hey, but I want my site do this and this and that. Should I wipe out 75% of the functionalities from my plans?
No, you don’t have to. But having only one website goal will help you to prioritize between them. It will be easier to figure out which functions, design elements, content parts are important and which are not.
Thus, you can save a lot of time and money by building those parts first that are most relevant for your goal. You’ll most probably be able to launch your site with a smaller, but more important set of elements, then build the rest based on the user feedbacks.
Your site’s initial version can be built up from less money, and it can also serve your users’ needs better.
Having a clear goal also helps you building up your content. You can write your textual content and choose your visual content in a way that it can serve your website goal. You’ll have more confidence about what to write next in your blog – as you can ask yourself:.
2. A Good Website Goal serves your business
A business website is not a l’art pour l’art thing. You can get your site redesigned and the new version can look a lot better than the old one. It can even win a webdesign award.
But who cares if it doesn’t make your business more successful? If it doesn’t bring you – directly or indirectly – more revenue?
This is often a common mistake made by offline businesses who can do business well in the brick-n-mortar world, but are less experienced online. They see that some of their competitors already have nice websites, so they decide: “OK, I need a nice website, too”. Then they pay a few thousand bucks to designers and developers to build it for them.
They are satisfied at the beginning – the boss shows to his relatives and colleagues how nice the new site is – and life goes on. They never get to know if it was a good investment or just some sunk cost. Maybe just a few years later…
Never let your website development out of your control! Always know how it will help your business and how you can check if you are on the right track…
3. A Good Website Goal is measurable
We are in the world of internet. We have Google Analytics. We have cookies. We have thousands of WordPress plugins. It has never been as easy as today to measure where you are with your goal. You can follow it in real-time!
E.g. let’s say your goal is to have 10 new quote requests via your website’s contact form each month. Based on your previous experience you know that you can convert 50% of them to be your clients. And 5 new clients on monthly basis could help you having a healthy business.
If you have now 100 visitors monthly and 2 of them fills in your quote request form, then you can have 2 great ideas right away:
- increase the number of monthly visitors: you can achieve by developing your site’s content to attract more direct visits or advertise your site
- and/or increase the site’s conversion rate: you can start experimenting with your site’s content and structure to see if it brings you better results
So you can set up a plan, work on it and check next month if you got closer to your goal or not.
Is my website’s goal good enough?
Let’s have a look at the most common questions and mistakes about setting up website goals:
- Building up the website itself is not a goal. It should be the consequence of a business goal/need. Find that business goal first!
- It has to be measurable – even if the site’s goal is to contact you offline. E.g. your website’s goal is that the visitors call you by phone. In this case you have to ask them during the call where they found your phone number. Or even better: have a separate phone for the calls from the website only – so you can track the conversions in your call log.
- A goal like “I need my site to work better.” is not exact enough. In which sense do you want it to be better? What’s that you don’t like about it? What are the current results it produces and what are the results you’d like to see? (you can answer these only if you know what you want from your site)
- “I would like more readers on my blog.” How many exactly on monthly basis? Who is your target audience? Where and how can you find them? You should always specify what you’d like to reach exactly.
- “I don’t know if the goal I have in my mind is good enough.” A good starting point is to think about your business: Do you need more customers? Do you want them to return to you more often? Do you feel like you are spending too much time with non-buyers? What is the inner issue of your business that you’d like to solve?
To sum up
Well, yes… before you start spending time and money on planning and building your website, it’s a must-have step to think about what you really want to achieve with the site. What kind of problem will it solve for your business?
It should be the very first step in the process, and it’s only you who can really think about it. If still confused, don’t worry: if you are not an expert in online marketing or website building, there are experts out there who can help you. At least by asking you the right questions and showing you the possibilities.
Would you like a consultation with me about your website goals?