Defining the goal for your website

20 May 2012 | Running a website

When you set up your business, all the books you read seem to tell you the same thing: you need to start by setting a goal. It is the same for setting up a website, especially if the website is for your business or company. Before you even decide on what to name your website, you need a goal.

Picture this, if the game is about putting 22 men on a field and their job is to kick a ball around aimlessly, do you think soccer fans all over the world will still enjoy the game as much? Don’t think so, right? We don’t need to be soccer fan to know that the game is about driving the ball into opposing goal, for as many times as possible.

Whatever we do in life, it is important to have goals. This is especially true when you are planning a website for your business.

“To inform our customers or potential customers about our company/products”

Can this be the goal for your website, you ask? Well it does sound like a goal, a vague one. My issue with such goal is, you can already achieve the goal by handing out brochures, that probably cost less money, and maintenance-free!

Moreover, it seems to me, anyone who stops by your website and looks through couple of your pages would have been “informed” already. Will you consider you have achieved the goal? Well unless this is really what you wanted, that you are happy to see lots of pageviews in your Google Analytics report. Yet, even so, how can you tell if these pageviews are real “pageviews”? People may just be casually browsing your website without really looking at your pages, trust me, that happens.

“How to make the goal sound more real, then?”

Most websites were created to inform anyway, especially corporate/business websites. To define a more realistic goal, you need to think beyond just inform. Start by asking yourself the question: what do you want your audience to do at your website. Remember, this should not be just “viewing the pages” as it’s a goal you can’t measure.

What are measurable goals? Here are some suggestions:

  • fill up and send out the contact form;
  • sign up for your mailing list, subscribe to your newsletter;
  • request for product sample;
  • download brochure, product catalog, e-voucher;
  • post comment to your article, share it on social networking sites, or “Like” it;
  • vote thumb up/down about your product;
  • most desirable of all: whip out the credit card and place an order;

Obviously, not all above goals are suitable for your website, it really depends on what business you are in. Neither you should just set all as your goals. Nothing wrong about it, but having too many goals will only make things complicated and you will lose track of where to start measure. Spend some time on thinking it through, then choose the one very goal and stick to it for some time, until you achieve the goal, or until something goes wrong.

“What are the benefits of having a goal?”

Look back at the example of soccer game, it’s about having the real fun! Without a goal, you wouldn’t know if your website is serving its purpose, whether or not you should continue to maintain it, if there is something you could do to improve it, or if you should just shut it down.

To sum it up, by defining a clear goal for your website, it makes all other aspects of website planning a little easier. It helps you define your target audience, what keywords to use, how to structure your website, what tone to use for the copywriting, how should it be designed, how will you promote it, and many more, in which, I will try to cover at some other time.

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