The goal of this article is to introduce the idea that strategy should be an important part of website design.
What is a Website Strategy?
An overall digital strategy is vital for a successful website. This strategy can be broken down into two, smaller strategies. A website strategy that covers how what your website is going to do and a digital marketing strategy which will cover how you will use various digital channels for raising awareness about your business and driving traffic back to your website.
As companies struggle with the problems surrounding digital, the number of strategy documents is increasing. Regrettably, all too often these documents are entirely impractical in their approach. No matter how visually stimulating and appealing your website is, it will always be unsuccessful to live up to its potential. Why is that so? The problem arises when companies are unable to manage their websites effectively. This calls for a deeper understanding of organisational issues by resolving problems of strategy, ongoing management and governance.
The Web is a Different Channel, Which Requires a Different Approach
Many businesses will mistake a website strategy to be similar to a business strategy. However, things are not that simple. Business strategies are developed in a reasonably stable environment, making it possible to identify potential issues on the horizon and plan for the near future. It provides a conventional roadmap as well as financial planning for that specific period. Because business strategies are predictable and reliable, budgets can be implemented, allowing organisations to be positive about the accuracy of these budgets.
On the other hand, the web is unstable and the same approach cannot be applied to it. It boasts aggressive growth and rapid change. There are always new tools, challenges and techniques surfacing on a regular basis due its fluid and unpredictable nature.
A Desperate Need for a Website Strategy
This is the exact reason why companies desperately desire a website strategy. They want to be able to comprehend and control this unpredictable landscape. They look for solutions regarding content syndication, personalisation, social media and much more. The rapidly altering web and these buzzwords make senior management dizzy and worry about their ability to survive and succeed.
In order to embrace the digital world, organisations want to be able to answer, plan and budget. They want to control and quantify it. However, this isn’t realistically possible because the web is an ever-changing environment. Companies cannot devise a 3-5 year strategy and predict the budgets necessary for spending.
A Different Approach is Necessary
Rather than trying to control this rapidly changing environment, a different type of strategy needs to be adopted. Companies need a strategy that doesn’t predict the landscape, instead it puts resources, procedures and structures in place, which can help them adapt to unpredictable changes when identified.
Generally, the tools and techniques used to run a lucrative and efficient website are different compared to those used in a business strategy. It includes a framework, which educates organisations on becoming more flexible in order to address these new digital evolutions as they occur. Companies are responsible for developing an agile team that can establish a persistently evolving development roadmap.The team will be able to recommend policies and procedures relevant to evaluate new innovations.
Website strategies include more than just an assessment of every technology – this would make them out dated. Instead, website strategies assist organisations to reach the place where they are able to make these assessments themselves.
What type of questions are asked when defining a website strategy?
To better understand what a website strategy is, companies should be asking the following questions:
What are the types of customers that visit your website?
Companies need to categorise the customers who use their website, instead of putting them in one big group because the customers who use a website will not all be same. For instance, a website that sells sports equipment can be used by adventure enthusiasts as well as people who occasionally pursue sports. Both groups of customers will most likely have different reasons of buying and should be targeted accordingly.
Is your website catering to the needs of every group of customer in a satisfactory way?
Too often, website owners are more concerned about their own needs, instead of focusing upon the customers’ expectations. For instance, website owners strive to generate sales and it is most likely that their websites reflect this. Just as customers hate annoying salesmen, they hate websites that only sell and aren’t useful in solving their concerns and questions.
What are the questions that customers ask when they arrive at your website? How do you plan to answer them?
It is very important that websites are able to address the concerns and questions that customers have when they reach the website. Customers’ span of attention is very short and if they are unable to find answers on your website, it is most likely they will search elsewhere to resolve their concerns and questions. A good example of one of the questions is why would a customer buy from your website?
For every page on your website, what is the desired action you want your customers to take?
In order to keep your target audience stay longer on your website, it is very important to provide them with direction – in other words, tell them what to do next after they have accessed a page on your website. If you are unable to tell your customers what to do next, they will feel deserted and will eventually leave your website.
How do you judge whether a customer’s visit was successful?
There are several tools and techniques available for companies to measure and determine whether a customer’s visit was successful or not. You also need to consider whether you aim for the website is to receive a phone call, a purchase or sign up to a newsletter or subscription. This will greatly impact your website’s design and layout.
What is your industry’s average conversion rate and what is your target conversion rate?
If you are unfamiliar with your industry’s average conversion rate then it is unlikely that you will be able to set your own conversion rate targets. It’s not possible to assume these numbers out of nothing. If data concerning this is unavailable, you will need to find another practical way of determining a conversion rate.
Don’t have a website strategy in place yet? Don’t worry, Weider Web Solutions can help you out. All our web projects start of with a discovery process that enables an effective strategy to be created.
Can you think of a lead generation strategy for your website? If you can’t please get in touch for a free 30 minute strategy session so you can see how strategy can help your business.