The first step towards online success may seem obvious, yet it is missed by most organizations. The critical first step is to set the right vision. This is done by defining proper results-oriented goals.
Why are you doing a redesign?
Over the last 13+ years we have asked thousands of people two simple questions when we first talk to them about a website redesign. The first is: Why are you redesigning your site?
The typical responses most people give are:
- We need a more professional look and feel
- The site is too confusing
- We need to add section X or we need to add Y functionality
- We need to be able to make changes to the site easily
- We need it to be mobile friendly
- The CEO wants to do it
These are perfectly rational reasons, but do not necessarily lead to a better website. In fact, studies show that stakeholder satisfaction from a typical redesign is short lived.
Ultimately, there should only be one reason for redesigning a website: it is underperforming – and we think we can do better. Just making your site look better, adding features or making the company stakeholders feel good will not directly lead to online success.
The second question we ask is: How would you define a successful project? (e.g. What are your goals?)
Most people are stumped by this question at first. Many have not even thought about their goals. The typical answer is “I’m not sure. We just need a new website.”
With a little more prodding, people will begin to articulate their priorities. The typical goals people come up with are:
- A clean professional looking website
- Getting the project completed on time and on budget
- Being able to manage our own content
The typical goals are around the features of their site - the look and feel, specific functionality, and the project coming in on time and on budget. But even if these goals are achieved, they will not generate value all by themselves.
Proper goal setting
Goals should be around measurements that impact the bottom line:
- increasing revenue
- reducing cost
- building goodwill (future increased revenue)
The reasons for a redesign and how you define success of your new website should be around benefits, not features. Goals should be clearly defined that either directly impact the bottom line or an intermediate step towards that end.
Furthermore goals should be SMART- specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time sensitive. For example, if your goal is to increase leads - by how much? In what time frame?
For a website focused on inbound marketing, it helps to break goals down into customers, leads and visitors. Start with how much you want to grow revenue and work backwards.
- Set a revenue growth target.
- Estimate how many customers you will need to generate that revenue.
- Estimate how many leads you will need to generate that many customers.
- Estimate how many visitors to your site you will need to generate those leads.
Maybe revenue is not your primary goal right now. If you are a startup, maybe it’s registrations. Or if you’re a non-profit, maybe it’s volunteers. For goals that involve non-revenue growth, simply replace revenue in step one with other objectives and determine the numbers for steps 2 through 4.
- Brainstorm goals you want to achieve with your new website
- Create measures for these goals
- Set targets and timeframes for each goal
- Build a budget for your web project based on the net present value of achieving these goals
Many website owners feel that a new website design is the marketing push needed to increase awareness of their brand. In reality, most redesigns produce little return on investment. The key to success is redesigning with a focus on results.
Start by creating bottom line impacting goals. Then prioritize all features and requirements based on those that make the most impact toward achieving your goals.
This post is an excerpt from the Website Redesign Success ebook. The ebook walks you through 8 simple steps to building a results-oriented website.
photo by jessamyn