Best Practices

Can't Reach the Goal If You Don't Have a Clear One

19. 07. 2010

Setting Goals:  A Case Study

If you haven't yet realized or been convinced of how important it is to take the time to determine your website goals before web development or redesign a website, you need to read this case study.

I recently attended a project kick-off meeting to discuss the direction and goals of a large corporation's website redesign project.  Before meeting to go over the company's background and strategy, the new client was given a questionnaire to extract specific background information.  One of our first questions was about the website's goals.  The client had decided that their primary goal was to generate new leads, which is commonly the most popular goal for the websites we work on.

The intention of our meeting was to add clear and action oriented terms to turn the client's goal into a measurable objective.  This way it would be possible to monitor and evaluate the success of the project after its completion.  After listing all the goals and objectives the next step was to put them in priority.  With all the major stakeholders in the same room, we quickly came to the conclusion that they actually didn't need to attract new clients. Their biggest issue instead had to do with sorting and clarifying the existing confusion among their systems and services.

Not needing to attract new clients is certainly a nice position for a private company to be in.  This particular client practically has a monopoly in the marketplace which is also why their primary focus isn't lead generation.

Setting proper website objectives is extremely important; it guides the strategy and tactics of the site.  The style, order and grouping of the content, navigation, as well as the amount of space dedicated to different items need to be tailored to achieve a particular goal.  For instance, if lead generation was the number one goal, the content would need to have a more sales-oriented tone with creative elements in place for building credibility and confidence, and the flow of information should direct people to request a quote and make inquires. All these types of elements would take up most of the website's real-estate to support the purpose of the goal.

A website project with a goal of reducing customer confusion is very different from one with a goal of generating leads - one that calls for an entirely new strategy. One approach to the revised objective is to organize the website to be more support and resource focused. With the significant shift in goals, the content of our new client's website will now be geared towards assisting customers with their needs and clarifying the how-tos, as well as setting up resources and systems to answer commonly asked questions, providing key support contact information, etc. All efforts will be directed to streamlining and answering customers' questions via the website in order to reduce the number of incoming calls and email inquires.

If we hadn't sufficiently probed the client about their goals, the website would have gone down the wrong path - content, structure, and design would have focused on the wrong thing.  Redirection of the objective further down the project's life would have meant a lot of redoing of the work, likely also project timelines would have to be extended and costs increased.  If the website was completed with the wrong goal in mind, what good would it have done the company?!  The website wouldn't have helped them grow, plus it would have been a wasted expense.

That is why I can't stress enough how critical it is to take the time to review the nature of your website project and get consensus internally in order to define clear goals and establish appropriate objectives from the start. Do it right and the results will follow.

For more information on planning your website, contact web design Toronto firm 9thCO here.

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