On various occasions, I receive telephone calls from potential clients looking for a website. The ensuing conversations always follow a familiar pattern. What do you need on your website, what are your brand colours, do you use any fonts in your other materials (business card, print advertising, brochures, etc). One question that brings silence is “What is your online strategy?” In this article, I will explain what to include in your online strategy so that your website is successful.
An online strategy is money well spent
It may seem that creating an online strategy is just spending the client’s money needlessly but creating a strategy will save both time and money. The strategy will drive the functionality and the design of the website.
There are five questions I ask every client.
- What do you want to get out of your website?
- Who are your users?
- What do they want from you?
- What experience do you want to provide?
- How do you define website success?
What do you want?
The first question usually brings answers such as an increase of 25% in the number of website visitors, reduce the number of phone calls looking for information we get each day, to sell our products online, and to increase our visibility. These are things that the website should be doing for the client. Each answer requires a different approach to website design.
Who is your target audience?
The second question deals with trying to understand the target audience. Often, the answer is “everyone”. But the answer requires specific demographics such as age group, sex, where do they live, what do they do, and what do they like. It would not make sense to design a website targeting 55-75-year-old males when you sell shows to females who are 20-40. Targeting the wrong audience will result in a website that will not perform as expected.
Time spend defining your users will build a better picture of who the website should attract. Items include specific needs, type of internet connection (fast or slow), type of browser used (IE, Chrome, Firefox), and type of device (desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone). At the end of this discussion, I will build a user persona and use it when thinking about functionality and design.
What do visitors want?
The third question relates to what the website users want when they visit the website. What problem do the visitors want you to solve? Finding the visitor’s pain and providing the correct solution helps increase the popularity of a website. Prioritizing the information gathered from this question will help with the website hierarchy. Some pages will be more important than others. Some visitors may only want your location and opening hours.
What do visitors expect?
The fourth question tries to discover what the visitors expect from the website. Do they want a quick in and out? Or do they want to read plenty of information? Do they want to compare products? Or do they want to read reviews? The answers will drive items such a page location, which images to use, what videos to include, and how to set up an online shop. All these items must support what users want from the website.
How will you measure success?
The last question helps set up metrics that validate the website design. A website that does not meet stated goals will be ineffective. The metrics must be specific and measurable. Google Analytics helps provide valuable data on your website visitors. In addition to tracking the visitor data, you must analyze the data. A graph that shows the number of visitors is decreasing requires looking for answers. Why are these visitors abandoning the website? What pages are they leaving from? Use the answers to improve the website.
Having an online strategy for your business website is essential for a successful online experience. Done right, your website will help improve your bottom line. Ensure that you have an online strategy before creating your website. A reliable website developer will take you along on this journey of discovery. Both you and your web designer will benefit.
Do you want this for your website?