One could think of running a business without a plan in place much like setting off on a car trip without a map or even a destination in mind. Sure, you may run across some delightful stops along the way, but ultimately, you have nothing in terms of goals to get you places. The same logic applies to website design. It’s not enough to want a website that affords its visitors a great user experience, it’s essential to sit down and formulate a plan for putting it together.
The Importance Of Setting Goals In Web Design
Before starting to design your website, you likely have a conceptual framework in mind that will reflect your brand’s personality (tips here), your product’s or service’s quality, and at least a rough idea of its intuitive navigation mechanisms. However, before you allow yourself to think about much of the content and color schemes, it’s essential to determine what your website aims to achieve, allowing you to set specific yet important goals.
Keep in mind that the goals you have for your website will be distinct from those of the site’s users. While users will be interested in finding a particular piece of information in your site’s content, you will be more focused on maximizing conversions, downloads, and collecting email addresses. The key is to find a happy medium that allows both sides to achieve their particular needs.
The goals you set for your website will be instrumental in its design, how it will be built, and what data will be used to measure its success. These goals should also align, at least to a degree, with your customers’ business goals. Now, let’s discuss the particulars of what exactly setting goals will help you determine.
Your website should be designed in such a way as to serve the needs of your target audience. If you think of your website as a restaurant, if you walk into a Thai place, chances are you are not looking to order a burger. Therefore, it is vital to know the audience your website is trying to serve, focus on what they consider important (and unimportant), and what specific problems they are facing.
When your audience arrives at your site, they are likely to be looking for something specific. Your design must be such that it permits them to quickly locate the information or entity they seek through your website’s interface.
Most Influential Content
Once your target audience is clear (more info), the next step is to build out some online personas. While these concepts may sound the same, they address vastly different aspects of your audience’s base. While the target audience focuses on demographic (age, gender, income, level, etc.) and geographic (where they live) data, customer personas are profiles of ideal consumers based on what problems they are seeking solutions for and their behaviors.
For example, visitors to a women’s clothing website are typically women looking to purchase clothing for themselves or a friend, as well as men looking to buy clothing for a woman in their life. By knowing this information, a website can be designed to cater to particular demographics with specific needs.
Optimal Website Arrangement
When you are clear about your goals, as well as those of the visitors to your site, you can optimally arrange the site in such a way as to prioritize the site’s content most effectively. All of the content leading up to the action you aim to have your users take must support their journey. After all, users will not be keen on following any call to action unless they have been presented with a compelling argument for doing so.
No guesswork here, though. The website arrangement is hypothetical until it is tested. Step through the user’s journey when acting as a user persona you had set up earlier. The most important aspects to consider are why these users came to your site and how to get them to the area they want in the most efficient, expedited way.
Measuring The Website’s Efficiency
Over time, the arrangement of your website will prove out to be either effective, ineffective, or average in its efficacy. This should be tracked with performance markers, which will then measure how effective the website is genuinely in helping to meet the goals of the client and the customers. Observation and evaluation of performance over some time will provide unambiguous answers as to whether your site has underperformed, overperformed, or is right on track with the goals you had set for it.
Setting The Goals For Your Website
Not every business will have the same goals. The same goes for websites. Depending on the nature of the site, the goals will differ based on the nature and intent of the business that the website is for. When you set goals for the website, it is essential to ensure that they meet a few critical attributes. These include:
● Specificity: Setting a goal as general as “increase traffic to my website” is too broad and is not practical enough to help you meet it. However, setting a time frame (6 months, for instance) and aiming to increase traffic by some percentage gives you a concrete milestone to attempt to attain.
● Measurability: Measuring goals is the only way to know whether they have been attained. But measuring can only be done to quantifiable things. Whether you measure visitor engagement by calculating the number of clicks or by how many emails you could attain for your email list, you can set a marker to shoot for. For example, “get 1000 newsletter subscribers per month” is a good, realistic goal to set.
● Attainability: When setting goals, they should be attainable. If the goal cannot be realistically met, it should not be a goal. Much like you will never reach the horizon if you chase it, setting unattainable goals will do nothing except make you feel like you shouldn’t even bother. This doesn’t mean that the goals cannot be challenging to attain. Ambitious plans are good because they force you to evaluate your website and refine things that increase your chances of achieving your goals. Some goals might be too massive, but if they are broken up into shorter periods to reach parts of dreams, the sum of all the features can start to feel and be attainable.
● Relevancy: There should not be just one set of goals. Depending on the page you are dealing with, the plans might differ. The goals of a home page or a landing page would be different than those of the pages that expand on the details of your products or services. If the goals prioritize the website’s business, the clients and their team can achieve them.
● Based On Time: Goals should be time-based. For example, increase sales by 20% over the next year. Without setting a period for evaluation, there is nothing to track and measure the goals by truly. Whether the time scale is in weeks, months, or years, the timescale should be implemented to measure the goals accurately.
When it comes to establishing rules for a website, there are no hard and fast rules because every business’s goals will differ. The owner of the website and their graphic design agency must work together to determine the website’s goals and how meeting them can be successfully measured. Remember, a site can look great, but the site will not be an effective entity for the business client without achievable goals.