This is the second in a series of four posts on building a better website. The first post focused on setting goals for your site. Subsequent posts will cover design and quality control. The series was sparked by an article that I posted on my Facebook page that advised businesses to reevaluate their e-commerce efforts, and also that they should avoid the “do it yourself” approach. While I agree with some of the advice in the column, I’m not sure that its necessary to avoid the DIY approach—especially if you’re tech savvy.
Regardless, the article did mention the necessity of setting goals, site planning, and design . . . all steps frequently overlooked by zealous business owners anxious to “get online.” I add another frequently overlooked, yet critical, function—quality control.
Now that you have your goals defined, its time to plan the site around them. Make a grid with each goal occupying a column and the strategic, functional, and operational functions that you need to consider in your business to meet your goals in the grid’s rows. Suggestions for the rows include:
- internal components/references/products
- competition/competitive considerations
- target market (who’s the goal “aimed” at)
- marketing considerations (budget, messaging, campaign planning, etc.)
- legal considerations/notices
- key operational changes/considerations
Depending upon your business and the individual goal you may have more or less rows than listed above. After you have the grid created, fill in each cell based on how the functional item will support the each goal. This exercise, or some variation thereof, is important and provides several benefits:
- it forces you to slow down and carefully consider the relationship between your goals and your current circumstances (you may need to revise your goals at this stage)
- it allows you to assess any downstream/post-development budgetary considerations (such as marketing budget impacts, customer support cost increase/decreases, etc.)
- it provides a framework to align and establish consistency between your online and offline presence; and
- it is an opportunity to identify and plan to meet operational challenges posed by the website.
This step requires careful consideration. It should be performed over several sessions and should involve a team of individuals from across the company’s functional areas . . . don’t forget to include a few team members on the “front line” they are often more in tune with how your customer interacts with your product and service and will be able to spot potential problems that management may not see.
Now that you’ve got a clearly defined planning grid, its time to move onto the design stage. Check in next Monday for part three in the series: M&M Monday: Build a Better Website-Design.
Miss the first installment, follow the link to view it at M&M Monday: Build a Better Website-Setting Goals.