Awhile ago, I wrote about the foundational elements of building a strong online presence. One of the three major components is a powerful website. I define a powerful website as one that actually accomplishes its purpose quite well. Operatively, then, a website must have a purpose. Putting on my MBA hat for just a moment, I would like for all websites to have a ‘measurable’ purpose. The world of qualitative assessments is fine if you are choosing a piece of art, but in the world of websites that either work or do not work, quantitative is key. So, please, let’s define a quantitative purpose. Of course, the one that immediately comes to mind is either direct revenue impact OR a leading indicator of revenue impact. Online sales. Phone calls. Form completions. Coupon downloads. You get it.
With that as my “obvious” starting point, I look out into the world of existing websites. Long past my shock, I find this online world very curious, and populated with some real interesting characters. Not to besmirch any of my online colleagues, but most frequently I find these questionable participants in either web development or in SEO. And really, all snootiness aside, I see how this situation occurred. A decade ago, marketers and business strategists were just beginning to grasp the impact of this channel, this media. The main players in this world – at that time – were programmers and developers, and lots of other folks that did not bring a business perspective, nor did they know how to even determine the business questions to ask during the development process.
What they did, and exceptionally well, was to deliver some level of whiz-bangness to web development. I would never diminish the extraordinary ideas they (collectively) develop and implement, much to our awe and amazement.
The problem with this approach, though, is that it often left (and leaves) the real target of a website long behind. That is, the customer. The one who – through purchases – actually funds the website. And this is the fatal error of most websites, even today. If you don’t start with the customer, who they are, how they buy, what they need to make decisions…well, you are going to just end up with another ineffective website.
So now we’ve talked about a fundamental cause of ineffective websites. Next time, I will tackle what it means to keep your customers in mind during website development.