Head of Digital Jon explains why businesses need to rethink how they treat their websites to make them successful.
For most businesses a website is the most important sales tool. It’s their digital shop window: a place to showcase work, sell product and educate visitors about their organisation. I’m constantly surprised by how many businesses fail to properly plan for and invest in their websites beyond their initial launch.
Websites take a huge amount of time, effort and resources to create, but with some gentle optimisations and on-going support and tweaking based on analytical insights, a website can be the difference between you achieving your business objectives (sales, contacts, downloads, etc.) and not. So whenever we meet clients we always outline what approach you should take to ensure your website delivers. My personal mantra is that you should treat your website in the same way as you would any other member of your team.
As a business your largest outgoing is likely to be your team. People are expensive, and you pay for what you get. Once you’ve gone to all the effort of identifying, recruiting and onboarding a new member of your team, you'd never consider leaving them to their own devices in the hope they become an integrated part of your team. Instead, you take the time to work with them, provide them with additional training to upskill them, review their performance and provide ongoing feedback. This is the only way to ensure you get value from your investment and get the best out of the people in your team. At Mobas, we believe passionately that you should approach a website project in the same way.
Each one of our projects begins with a scoping exercise, based on the organisation’s objectives, audience and brief. Just as an employee needs a strong job description – which outlines the requirements of the role, key objectives and the experience and skills needed – so too does your website if it’s to be effective.
We always involve as many stakeholders as possible to ensure we’re building the right website, on the right platform and with the right technology. But the work doesn’t stop when the website launches: in fact, it’s only just begun. We have a clear post-launch programme which allows us to measure the effectiveness of the site in reaching your organisation’s goals based on the objectives set at the start of the process. These objectives, just like for a member of staff, should drive and focus content creation and new technical developments for the website on a day-to-day basis.
There should also be a number of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) set for the website to allow measurement of metrics to help assess performance against objectives. Those responsible for managing websites can be distracted by shiny new technology opportunities, offering different ways of doing things, but the site objectives should be used to measure these new approaches against their ability to deliver on the objectives: if not relevant, they can be parked as possible approaches to meet new objectives as these arise in the future.
We recommend that websites should be put through a periodic performance review to see how well it’s meeting its objectives and measured against its KPIs. It’s also a chance to pick up on organisational changes and new audience trends. Objectives and focus will change over time and your website needs to change in response to this to ensure it’s still relevant.
Throughout the year, we trial and test new business ideas through discrete pilot projects or offer new ways of improving current systems through A/B testing. The website’s ability to provide metrics on new activity also puts it in a good position to bring new ideas up to business as usual.
Successes for the website should also be celebrated – just like for a staff member. When the website does well in meeting its objectives, it may not need a pay rise or a special hamper at Christmas – but increasing its budget to allow it to develop on its success next year might be money well spent in maintaining the value it brings to your organisation for being on the payroll.
If you’d like to learn more about planning and project managing a website you can read our latest guide here.