It’s essential to understand the characteristics of the people you want to visit your website, as Discover the most important part of your website explained. Also crucial is to be clear about the purpose of your website.
What do you want your website to achieve? What’s its purpose? What do you want people to do when they visit your site?
The main goals
Your website may have one or two main goals, and perhaps a couple of secondary goals. For example, your goals may include a couple of these:
- To inform
- To entertain
- To persuade
- To educate
- To support a campaign
- To share news
- To raise awareness
- To gather opinions
- To sign up supporters
- To fulfil legal or moral obligations
- To publicise something
- To foster a feeling of community
- To sell something
- To share and distribute resources
- To save money
- To generate income
- To provide training
- To store and share historical records
- To support a product
- To establish credibility or authority
- To give a particular group a ‘voice’
That’s not an exhaustive list of possibilities. Your website will probably be aiming to achieve one or two of those things or perhaps something else entirely.
Goals and visitors determine content and style
It’s important to recognise exactly what it is you want to achieve with your website.
When you’re in planning meetings you will return time and again to why you want a website. The more precise your focus, the more likely it is that the site will succeed. A site that tries to be all things to all people will almost certainly end up achieving nothing and suiting no-one.
The goals for your site affect what you actually put on the website, how you structure the site, which items are more prominent, the style of the site, and even design factors such as fonts and colours.
Every element of the site needs to be judged according to whether it supports the overall goals or not. Things that work against the goals need to be removed or changed.
For example, your favourite colour may be pink, but if you try to use pink on a site that aims to build credibility and reliability it may undermine your message. Unless your target visitors come from a culture where pink is highly esteemed, of course.
Do a stocktake
If you already have a website, note down what you know about the target visitors, and the main goals for the site.
Now look through the site and ask which elements support the visitors and goals, which are opposed, and which are neutral.
Does the front page stand up to scrutiny? Does it say the right things to the right people? Does it have extra ‘junk’ that dilutes the message?
What about the other main pages? Do they support the purpose of the site?
It’s easy to sit around and brainstorm all the information that could be on a website, all the gadgets and features a website could have. But each piece of information, each whizzy feature needs to justify its existence and contribute to the goals. If it doesn’t, then ditch it.
Think of your website as a sharp arrow, not as a battering ram.
What should visitors do next?
And now comes the next important consideration: what do you want visitors to do next? What is your ‘Call to Action’? The next Tip will look more closely at that topic.
Written in English by Miraz Jordan for, and reproduced from CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, May 2010. This article may have been modified for publication here.