Defined Goals For Your Web Site

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, October 30, 2009 at 07:50 AM with 3 comments

Do you have defined goals for your Web site? When I say goals, do you have someplace written down goals and objectives for your Web site, which may have a project charter, mission and/or vision statement, target primary and secondary audience for your Web site and what they may be looking for?

If you do not, you are certainly not alone. Many Web sites start with the assumption of goals even if they are not written down. Over time, goals certainly change, just as businesses and their customers change. Having these guiding principles in writing – even framed and hanging in your office – help guide you in your decision-making for changes and enhancements to your Web site.

The Infamous Spaghetti Test

Many people test to see if spaghetti is fully cooked by throwing a piece up on a wall to see if it sticks. Personally I have never done this, but that may be due to being 100% Italian American and “just knowing” when it is done! This analogy is used quite often in business – taking an idea and throwing it out there to see if it sticks. The same can be done with ideas for your Web site, and instead of a wall you would throw it up against the goals of the Web site.

Goals for your Web site should not be in place to slow you and your business down and hinder you in any way. Many times people see something on a Web site and want it on theirs. Whether it is a cool new way to present something or a change for whatever reason, having goals in place should not kill those ideas altogether, rather they should help in their prioritization.

Usability of Goals in Key

So what should your goals look like? The simple answer is they should be in a usable format. Where that may be obvious, it always isn’t. Many times when people or the consultants they hire to build their Web sites define goals, they are lofty, multi-page documents that by their sheer design get stuffed in a file cabinet or in a folder on one’s computer, never to be looked at again. That’s not to say goals cannot be comprehensive, and if they are they should be then boiled down into a 1-page summary easily accessible by those involved in decision-making for the Web site.

As there should not be a schedule to creative-thinking, ideas will come about and they need to be addressed. As mentioned previously, these ideas may not be acted upon immediately but recorded for future consideration. This process is called product management, where the product is the Web site. The product manager for your Web site may be the organizational “owner” of the Web site or a key individual who serves as the traffic cop for such decisions. Your Web site should have a product manager in some form, if for any other reason to have a contact person to report issues to on the Web site.

Start Somewhere

If you don’t have goals, start by writing down something. If you do have goals written, dust them off and review them. The goals for your Web site are ideally a living breathing entity, but not quite a chameleon that is in constant change and flux. They should parallel changes in business as well as advances in Web design and technology. The latter doesn’t mean you and your business need to be on the bleeding edge of Web design, though in 2009 it is not a bad idea to use video on your Web site to talk about your products and services. But if a goal is to be on the bleeding edge and you are not there, this is where goals can serve you well.

The days of the “geek in the corner” hacking away at your Web site are over. It takes a team effort to create a thriving Web site. The best way to keep everybody on the same page is to understand the goals, whether it is for your Web site or your entity as a whole.

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