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Vision 2020 - Website Strategies 101


Website Strategies 101

You've invested time and money into your website. How do you ensure a good return? We've sourced a process that will help you to align your website with your business goals AND your customer needs. It goes like this:

Know What You Want

With web technologies advancing every day, there are endless possibilities of what you can have your website do for your business. It is important to brainstorm a list of specific tasks you wish for your website to achieve, so the designs and development can be clearly shaped to meet these demands.

Question 1:
What are you trying to accomplish with your website? Better yet, maybe ask yourself, "How can we use our website to achieve organisational objectives?"

Common answers:

- Increase sales
- Generate leads
- Reduce support costs
- Foster loyalty among users
- Streamline process with partners

Question 2:
"What opportunities are we missing because our website doesn't stand up in comparison to our competition?"

Know Your Audience

Plenty of projects have bombed because they've failed to consider the user in the design and development process. It is critical to define who is your website talking to? Your website should be designed for the demographic audience you are trying to reach.

Example: Many government organisations have commonly developed site navigation options based on organisational structure. But, who is the main visiting audience of this website? People in  the community that most likely have no idea about that housing permits might fall under Community Development department. 

To get started thinking a bit more user-conscious, ask yourself the following questions:

- Why are people coming to our site?
- What are they expecting to find?
- How can we make our site easier to find?

Treat Your Website Like A Business

After defining business goals your website should achieve and the audience that it will most likely be catering to, our next step is to define a web strategy.

When meeting for a deisgn brief with many large organisations, they commonly produce the some of the following documentation:

- design guidelines
- coding guidelines
- site maps
- accessibility guidelines
- navigation standards
- functional specifications
- security standards
- ...and so on.

Site Strategy versus Documentation
These organisations are very specific about these critically important specifications, yet they never seem to produce any documentation that makes sense of all of these details - a site strategy. The moment you have a clear goal and communicate a well-defined site strategy, it is much easier to get where you're wanting to go.

Create a Website Strategy

A site strategy serves to contribute to the larger business goals defined by a business plan. Aligned properly, a site strategy spells out the game plan for your site - the impression visitors should have, the ideal actions users should take, the user experience, metrics for measuring and for optimising results, etc.

There are many variations and strategies that could be considered in a site strategy. There is no one "right" site strategy. We've listed a few key factors that we feel stand out as valuable for your consideration:

- Perception - Who are you? Or, how do you wish to be perceived?
- Problem/Result - What are the Primary and Secondary reasons for your website design project?
- Findability - Where do (or where will) your visitors come from?
- Audience - Who is your target audience (behaviours, environment, expectations, etc)? 

Measure the Right Metrics

What are the key performance indicators (KPI) that this website will be measured by? If you aren't focused on conversions such as sales, lead generation, advocacy, or downloads, it is important to know the results you wish to achieve with this website design. Below are a few examples of metrics that seem to help our team to quickly assess a sites alignment with a business:

Business Metrics

- Revenue
- Transactions
- Profit
- Gross margin

Site Metrics

- Conversion rate
- Most visited pages
- Time on site
- Traffic

User Metrics

- User testing results
- Satisfaction survey trends
- Focus group feedback
- Customer support inquiries

Prioritise Design Efforts Intelligently

For the last few years, businesses have opted to buy more traffic rather than to focus on increasing their conversion rates. Have a think about this - which would you invest more capital into?

1. $200 per month to generate traffic to a site that results in 1% conversion
2. $200 per month to generate traffic to a site that results in 5% conversion
For our team, it is not a very difficult equation to figure out. Yet so many companies are constantly throwing more and more money into option 1 in hopes of getting a different result.

Note: Google and other search engines have recognised this pattern and they are combating it with new algorithms like Panda and Penguin. This means that businesses must be creating more organic traffic to their sites in order to optimise their findability in search engines.

This common sort of prioritising causes many designs to be focused solely on one specific page - the home page. For most companies, the priority hierarchy for their web design tends to look like this:

Priority Hierarchy (Common)

When we prioritse the focus of our site strategy to increase potential return on investment (ROI), our priority hierarchy might look a bit more like this: 
Priority Hierarchy - for ROI

Test, Learn, Optimise

Ok, you've done it! Your website is finally up, running, and loyally awaiting traffic. So you're all finished, right? No, we see this just the beginning of the ongoing experiment.

The development and optimisation of the effectiveness of your website requires an open-minded and scientific approach.  With an ocean full of potential design solutions available, we find our best results with sites that are treated as a part of the work-force: reporting trackable results, fine-tuning by incremental improvements, etc.  

Our team refers to this development process as agile solutions. In a nutshell, agile solutions is an ongoing strategic process of developing and fine-tuning websites with a focus on generating incremental ROI gains to reduce risk, produce trackable results, and to earn trust for funding further advancements and website developments.


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