Is your website any good? If you leaned over right now and asked a friend/relative/co-worker that question, their response would be solely based on how the site looks, and their personal opinion of that overall aesthetic. Which unfortunately doesn’t tell you much….
You should be making decisions about your website based on goals, not subjective opinions. Set goals for your site, and use those goals to help inform decisions you make about content, design and functionality. In fact, once you’ve outlined those goals and start measuring against them, you will probably never ask for opinions about your website again. You will be able to answer the question of whether or not you have a good website based on data.
How do you set appropriate goals for your website?
You want to set achievable, quantifiable, and fairly specific goals for your site. Having a vague goal of increasing sales or decreasing call volume will be difficult to directly correlate to changes on your website. A good place to start the thought process is by examining the company’s overall short and long-term goals, and consider how those high-level goals can be translated for your website.
For example, let’s assume these were some of your company’s goals:
- Increase customer prospects by 20 percent
- Increase early registration for an annual conference by 10 percent
- Hire new people to staff a satellite office by the start of Q4 without increasing recruiting costs
And here is how those overall goals could be turned into goals for your website:
- Capture X amount of contact form submissions per month
- Capture X percentage of conference registrations online
- Capture X amount of online resumes
How do you measure success?
There are three keys to measuring your website goals:
- Analytics are capturing the right data. Be sure to set up an analytics tool for your website that can measure user events like form submissions. Once the tool is in place, you can start tracking the events that correlate to your goals.
- Don’t get bogged down in irrelevant data. Most analytics packages will automatically track lots of different data points, like how much overall traffic the site is getting and where that traffic is coming from. Don’t get lost in all those statistics. Focus on those that are relevant to your goals.
- Record, report and respond on results weekly. By reviewing the data at least once a week, you will gain a clear picture of how well you are tracking against your goals. And if the picture that develops is not one that reflects your goals, it might be time to consider making some changes.
It’s working! Now what? (Or… It’s not working! Now what?)
If you are on target to meet the goals you have set, that is great news! So what’s next? Consider setting new goals for the next quarter, year, etc. and follow a similar model when creating and tracking them.
Conversely, trying to figure out why you did not meet your goals can be challenging. If the goals you set for the website were realistic and your analytics are tracking correctly, then you might consider engaging your friendly neighborhood User Experience expert for an assessment and possibly some usability testing. There could be several reasons why users are not submitting your contact form or registering for the conference online, and a UX designer can recommend improvements. Maybe the registration form is too long. Maybe the contact us form is buried in the navigation. Maybe users do not understand the options being presented for registration and end up abandoning the process mid-stream.
When considering a change to your website, you should always be able to tie that change back to your goals and the supporting data associated with them. This rule of thumb applies across the board – from small changes like tweaking the labels on form elements, to larger initiatives like adding a new section or considering a redesign overhaul.