As an Internet Consultant, I occasionally encounter clients that inspire me to think of ways to educate them to have success on the Web. Lately I’ve wondered if business owners that have an online presence, take into account the importance of a web site strategy? Site strategies are important for a number of reasons. A web site strategy forces you to take a hard look at the specifics about your sites users, competitors etc.
Here are some examples of areas to analyze when developing a site strategy as demonstrated in the book Web Design for ROI:
- Increase Sales by a certain percentage
- Establish stronger identity
- Improve communication
- Promote professionalism an experience
- Improve usability
- Prospects (potential customers)
- Current customers
- Potential Investors
- Potential Partners
- Current Partners
- Potential Employees
While it is crucial to promote a positive image of your web site, it is equally important to provide answers to questions for each target audience. Doing this will give users an impression that your site not only looks professional, but has answers to questions that are easy to access. This area is also particularly important because you have to give an honest assessment of your users in order to get a realistic understanding of what they want.
In order to determine what decisions need to be made to improve ones web site, you cannot do it without taking a close look at your competitions web sites. Now we’re not just talking about browsing through to see what colors their using. You must look a the content; how users are directed via navigation to certain areas of the site; determine how easy it is to access information, overall ease-of-use etc. Once this information is gathered you need to make a comparison to your own site. Here’s where we need to be completely honest again. Not doing so will result in false information and eventually a failed strategy.
So What Does This All Lead To
Let’s say you have a store front and your goal is to increase sales by 20% over the next 3 months. In order to do this, you might come up with a plan to get customers to get in the store. Perhaps you’ll put up posters, produce a radio advertisement, what-have-you. Once they’re in the door, you want them to have the best experience they could imagine, not only to get them back, but to also tell a friend. To accomplish this, you may develop a strategy for achieving a specific set of goals. So why not treat your web sites the same way? If you have a product or service that you offer to clients or potential clients, then you need to think about what your strategy is for running your business online — whether it’s the primary (i.e. you only have a web site) or secondary location of your organization.
Plain and simple, if you don’t provide a positive experience to your sites users, then they won’t return. By making your web site an enjoyable experience, you can almost ensure that visitors will return and hopefully spread the word to others. What does this have to do with strategy you ask? Well, as I stated earlier, without an honest assessment of your web site, visitors and competition, it is virtually impossible to achieve any success…unless you believe in luck.
In the future I will be writing more about Return On Investment (ROI), setting up goals, conversion rates, and how they all relate directly to strategy.