fail, verb – “to not succeed in what you are trying to achieve or are expected to do”
You carefully selected the colours, you diligently created a brief for the designer and you carefully oversaw the site build. So why hasn’t your website achieved what you expected?
Have you got the right focus?
It’s only natural that you want an eye-catching website that looks good, and that’s why it can be all too easy to get wrapped up the creative process. But if you want to create a successful website, it’s fundamentally important to look beyond the colour, design and feel and focus on the strategy.
Your business is unique, so it’s crucial that any strategy definition is tailored to your specific needs. In fact, if you don’t have a strategic solution in place for your website, the cost in lost opportunities may be higher than you think. Choosing cost over value is rarely an effective way of growing a business.
Want to know how to set the right strategy? These 4-steps will guide you on the path to setting a successful website strategy.
STEP 1: IDENTIFY
What factors are vital to the continued success and growth of your business? It’s only by identifying these that you can begin to consider the purpose of your website.
What are your business drivers?
Organisations often overlook identifying and documenting their business drivers because they assume they are obvious. However, by taking an analytical approach, not only can you can add real clarity, but you can also work out any latent conflicts.
Value drivers are identified by looking at your business priorities, these then determine your business objectives. They might include:
• significant business growth,
• cost management, and
• market position.
What are your project goals?
Once you have identified your key business drivers, you can start to define the project goals and objectives.
STEP 2: REVIEW
What aspects of your business might impact the website strategy? Benchmarking the current situation is key.
What is your brand?
You need to look at your brand value and your brand proposition to fully understand how your business is currently presented to the market.
What are the constraints?
Your organisation’s current policies, situation and frameworks may put constraints upon the website’s strategy, and these will often need to be reflected in the website and content strategy. For example:
• Legal issues – Many businesses operate in specific regulatory and legal situations, so it’s important that you are up to speed on yours.
• Creative guidelines – From colour palettes to typography, and from tone of voice to photographic style, your organisation may already have pre-defined guidelines that it’s essential your website complies with.
What analytics are already in place?
A high-level review of your existing website analytics can very useful at the review stage. It will allow you to gain an understanding of both the current interaction with your website and also to create a benchmark for when you review the site again after implementation.
STEP 3: RESEARCH
Research is important. You might like the look of your website, but your favourable opinion is no guarantee of the website’s effectiveness within its target audience. That’s why it’s vital you gather the opinions of everyone associated with your website.
What do the stakeholders think?
With any project there are multiple stakeholders, from the business owners, through the management and then the end users. You can gather stakeholder input through interviews or through workshops. Workshops are particularly effective for larger numbers of stakeholders.
What do your users think?
If you already have an active website that you’re planning to redesign, it’s a great idea to find out how people currently use it. An in-depth analysis of the existing user analytics combined with user surveys could throw up some invaluable information for your strategy.
What do the experts think?
If your aim is to conduct effective and successful research, then it’s well worth seeking input and advice from experts in web marketing and web design.
What are your competitors doing?
A quick online search can offer rich pickings when it comes to finding out about your competitors’ online presence, so make sure you take the time to study them. There are more tools than search that can give a deeper insight, however the only thing they can’t tell you is how effective your competitors’ website strategies are for their business.
STEP 4: DEFINE
The final stage in creating your website strategy is to define some essential tenets that will add clarity to the process.
What is the customer journey?
How do your customers interact with you online? If you want to understand their digital behaviours, then you need to map their customer journeys, be it on Facebook, Twitter, review sites or your website.
What are the personas of your customers?
Who are the customers who visit your website? Make sure you clearly identify their personas so you can shape your website strategy around them. To do this properly, you need to go above and beyond simply identifying customer segments – you need to get down to the nitty gritty of who your potential audience is.
What is the governance of your website?
It’s a good idea to use this stage to establish exactly who is accountable for the governance and management of your website. The fact is that over time this digital asset will depreciate, so it’s crucial that you decide who has responsibility for maintaining the site’s ongoing value proposition.
What happens once your strategy is in the bag?
So, you’ve identified your business drivers, you’ve reviewed your current situation, you’ve researched what you need to do and you’ve defined your terms. What then? Well, that’s when you can move onto implementation, confident in the knowledge that everything you do is underpinned by a sound strategy. A strategy that’s guaranteed to set your website up for business success. And that’s when the fun really begins.
Although each implementation is different, all projects tend to follow a similar process made up of the following stages:
- design (both content and functionality)
- build (both content and functionality)