Being clear about your website’s purpose
Not defining the purpose of a website is one of the biggest mistakes people make. One of the first questions you should ask yourself when commissioning or creating a website is “Why?” Now, let’s be clear. We are not asking what the website will do as it is easy to start talking about functionality and that is not what we are asking. We want to know exactly why you want your website. We want to know the purpose of your website.
Think about some of the websites you use. Why do you visit those websites? You may shop for a book at Amazon, learn a new skill at Udemy, entertain your children at Disney, donate to a charity, want a quick tutorial from CSS Tricks, need medical advice from WebMD, or plan your next campaign with your gaming clan on a forum or community social media site.
Each of the websites you visit have a definite purpose in mind before design begins. If you already have a website think about what are you trying to achieve. Is your website successfully meeting its goals? Is it working to its full potential? Whether your goal is to make sales or collect email addresses, you must ask yourself, “Does my website do everything possible to accomplish our goals?”
Believe it or not, people either forget to think about what they want their website to attain or don’t think it through properly. The purpose should be your main concern. Without a clear purpose your website will fail.
Your website does not need to have only one aim. You need to establish your primary goal and then look to include secondary objectives. For example, you own a retail website. Your primary goal would be to make sales. Your secondary objectives may be:
- to increase your brand awareness;
- to collect email addresses to send out marketing emails;
- for users to create accounts;
- to encourage repeat business.
You do not have to have only one purpose as long as you are clear about what you are doing.
What’s the purpose of the DesignWrite website?
Let’s examine this website. Our website has a primary purpose which encompasses our secondary objectives. Our main purpose is to advertise our services to attract and retain clients, and provide a means for prospective clients to contact us. Our website’s secondary aims are:
- Show that we do much more than web design;
- Demonstrate our skill and knowledge through our blog;
- Give back to the design community through our written and video tutorials, and other articles;
- Collect email addresses for our newsletter which features our latest news, updates and offers;
- Distribution of our free eBook, “How much does a website cost?” demonstrating our copywriting skills and helping prepare potential clients for the web design process.
Your website’s purpose
If you are feeling a little clearer about contemplating the purpose of a website then you need to think about your own site.
If you already have a website up and running, is it achieving its purpose? If not, what can you do to ensure it does? You may have to make a few minor changes or a major update to content to design. You may even have to commission a new website. The latter may give you pause but if your current website is not doing what you need, what is the point in letting it continue? In the long term a new, purposeful website could make you more money.
If you do not yet have a website then you are in the ideal position of setting your targets, defining the purpose and designing your website around your objectives. At every stage of design and development, you must ensure that your website will achieve its purpose. After launch you need to be consistent as you refresh your content to reinforce your website’s purpose.
It is important to write down your goals. It will help you to be clear and concise, and avoid any gray areas. You may also refer back to your notes when any questions arise to help you make future decisions about your website and keep it true to its purpose.
A purposeful website is effective. Conversions are high, traffic is constant. You are reaching your principal customer demographic and attracting secondary groups. Design your website to achieve its full potential and you will reap the benefits.
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