How We Build Awesome Websites, Part 1: Know Your Website Goals
Building or redesigning a great WordPress website takes a lot of preparation and decisions. Over the past 14 years, we’ve created a near-perfect process for creating awesome websites that meet business goals. To help you with your web projects, we’ve put together a series of blog posts about our website design, development and launch process. This is the first post in the series.
Do you know your website’s objective? Long before you start thinking about the colors you want to use or how the map will be laid out, you need to figure out your site’s mission. Here’s how.
Pick a Web Design Objective
We see seven common primary objectives for websites. They are:
- Provide basic business information, such as how to find or contact your business.
- Serve as an advertising vehicle to promote your company.
- Build your brand(s).
- Sell your products/services.
- Inform prospects, clients, investors by providing news and events.
- Provide customer service and support.
- Facilitate interaction with customers and interested potential clients.
The problem, of course, is that these primary objectives are pretty broad — if you ask most business leaders which of these objectives they want for their website, they usually want all of the above. There’s a little trick to help everyone focus on one big idea for a website. I call it Strategy MadLib:
To (action verb) (audience) who want to (audience member’s goal)
to (action verb) (your company’s website)
instead of (your competitor’s website or any other non-web option)
because (your website) actually has (nouns) whereas (your competitor’s website) has
If you fill that in, you get something like:
To invite machinists who want to create plumbing flanges
to explore www.plumberflanges.com
instead of using a nail file
because www.plumberflanges.com has actual tools designed for making awesome
plumbing flanges, and a nail file takes forever.
To (action verb) (audience) to (audience member’s goal)
instead of (audience member’s typical bad behavior that needs improvement)
because (your improved approach – describe it and explain benefit).
To convince www.lifesupportsystems.com visitors
to have their defibrillators automatically checked twice a year
instead of ignoring it and risking defibrillator malfunction in an emergency
because www.lifesupportsystems.com makes it easy to be ready to save lives.
Keep Your Web Design Focus Narrow
If you’re unable to come up with answers to the Strategy MadLib, you can always use the seven most common objectives. Unfortunately, you’ll have a site that will work for just about anyone. That’s not bad, but it won’t make your site stand out. If it doesn’t stand out, it’s forgettable — and that’s not one of the seven goals, is it?
The more you emphasize one goal over the others, the tighter and more powerful your website will be.
You might run into trouble if you have a web design committee and people have different ideas about what the website’s objective should be. In that case, just put it to a vote. Write all seven objectives on a white board and give everyone two votes for the most important. The one with the most votes wins.
Clarifying your website’s objective will help influence other decisions you’ll be making down the road. Put some careful thought into it to ensure your website does what you want it to.
Stay tuned for more posts in our How We Build Awesome Websites series, where we’ll share tips for designing, developing and launching web projects.