If you've ever needed a website you may have had one of the following thoughts "If I don't have a website, it's not real", "I need to rank high on search!", "Everyone's shopping online these days". When I started building my own business I had some similar thoughts. But what is often forgotten at the early stage of creating a website for your business is the end goal. You want to make sure you have a results driven website. What do I mean by a "results driven website"? Having your intended audience take the actions you wanted them to take on your website and ultimately making your business money. To put this another way, do you have a website that wasn't getting you the results you want? Now don't get me wrong, there are a number of reasons you could be seeing a gap between the results you want and the results you're getting. But I find if you answer the following questions as you design each page of your website, you'll see a difference in your results:
1. What are your business goals?
This may be an obvious question but having clear and S.M.A.R.T business goals and then identifying which one should be addressed with your website is a crucial first step. Let's say your business goals are along the lines of (a) brand awareness, (b) being perceived as an expert, and (c) driving sales. You would likely focus the experience your customers have with your website on either being perceived as an expert or driving sales as your main website goal depending on your business. Why not brand awareness? Because your website is likely not going to be how people discover your site (unless you're strategy is 100% SEO). Otherwise press, word of mouth, and advertising are likely your go to places for increasing your brand awareness. Just having a clear idea on which business goals you're focusing on when building your website is your first step.
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2. Who are you targeting?
While a variety of people may come to your website (journalists, investors, curious parties). You should create the site not only for the business goal(s) you are looking to address but the person or customer you are looking to engage with. For example. If your goal is to be perceived as an expert? Who are you specifically looking to see you as an expert (from a business perspective). You may be saying to yourself - everyone - Nikki I want everyone to see me as an expert. Which may be true. But not everyone is going to be buying what you're selling. So who are you actually looking to engage with? Knowing who you're engaging with could influence the type of content you're putting on your site, if you design primarily for mobile or desktop (and I don't mean responsive design).
3. What action do you want them to take?
Once you've identified the business goal you're looking to address, your target audience, you can start thinking about what actions you would want them to take in order to achieve your business goals.
Do you have an app that you want them to download? Then simple (mobile first) designed site with information on your app and a link for them to download it directly from your site is probably all you need.
Do you mainly want their email? Let's say you're selling something that requires you to build a decent amount of trust with initially. Let's say it takes most people on average a month to decide to buy your product. You may simply want their email address in order to keep the relationship going after their initial visit to your website. You may design your website as a homepage where you have a splash that shows up exchanging a discount (or something for free) for an email address and a series of landing pages where you give away e-books, webinars, white papers, etc. in exchange for an email address.
Are you an online retail store looking for people to buy? Your products would then be the hero of the site and you may focus the site on showcasing customer reviews or sales with tabs for people to learn more about the company.
Websites can be an amazing tool for your business. There is often the desire to put as much information as possible on your site so that anyone who possibly comes to your site has what they need. While this may still result in a nice looking website or a website where people are spending a lot of time, it is not likely a site that is getting you the results needed to drive revenue for your business. Your website is not for you, it's for your dream client. So make sure you are giving them what they are coming to your website for AND directing them to your desired outcome. Asking yourself just 3 questions and then designing specifically for those answers will leave you with a results driven website.