Setting clear and accurate goals when designing your website - as in any pursuit - can save you much time and money in the long run. This is a task that should not be done blindly or without outside advice. Involving anyone at all - friends, family, an expert, a colleague - will be an asset. As the old saying goes, two heads are better than one.
What is a Goal?
The best way to visualize reaching goals is to think of archery - usually archery conjures up images of Robin Hood. You want to hit your mark to win the contest, escape the sheriff, help the poor, foil Prince John, etc. For example, suppose you wish to become a blogging magnate. However in doing so, you get carried away with a link building scheme, get involved with setting up a cutting edge newsletter system, and distract yourself with designing banner ads. All of this sounds great, but it kept you from your primary goal - to run a blog. You missed the mark.
What is a Priority?
Keeping priorities straight is a little different than reaching goals. Priorities are the values you wish to maintain while working to reach your goals. Remember that William Tell had to shoot the apple, and he had to do so without killing his son, Walter. To explore this further, let's go back to the blogging example above. You are posting a large quantity of entries to your blog, but your posts are riddled with grammar and spelling mistakes. Or you're trying to monetize your blog, but the links and ads you put on your website don't look professional.In these examples, you hit the mark, but caused some "collateral damage" in doing so.
Why is it Important?
Being clear about your goals and priorities can save you much unecessary time, unforseen costs and wasted money. Let's consider some avaoidable scenarios:
- You are hiring a web designer to create a traditional HTML website. After it is done, you think it looks wonderful Then you inquire how to add new pages in a user-friendly way becasue you'd like to publish articles weekly. Oops! The web designer didn't realize you wanted to do that. Now you must have the website re-worked with a content management system. This will take two more weeks.
- You contracted with a web developer for a content management system website. Everything goes well and you're able to post your articles. You ask about publishing a newsletter, taking donations, a photogallery, or some other additional features. The hand-rolled CMS designed just for you can't handle this. You either have to pay for the developer to program these additional features, or get third-party scripts and fit them in.
- Your web consultant told you that he would get you on the front page of Google for searches realted to your product. Pleased, you didn't look any further into the matter. After weeks of development, your e-commerce website is up and running. What the web guy didn't tell you, and you didn't hink to ask, was that he meant that you'd use Google AdWords, rather than organic search results - and pay per click.
Most importantly, balanced goals and priorities will lead to your eventual success. Being realistic is a very big part of this scenario. Buiding it does not necessarily mean they will come. To attract visitors, get clicks, sell products, or make people pick up the phone, you must work hard and utilize the right tools for the job. Do you have the resources to develop a proper website in the first palce? Are you ready to spend a few hours per week (or more!) adding content to your website? Will you check your traffic logs and respond to issues? Can you commit to educating yourself on the letest Internet marketing strategies?
Let's Look at Some Specifics
To get the ball rolling, we'll explore some possible goals and priorities that you may wish to consider before developing your website.
|Good Goal||Bad Goal||Good Priority||Bad Priority|
|Have a well-developed website to take advantage of new oportunies.||Have a cheap, basic website becasue everyone else does.||Get the best value - a high quality website that fits within my budget.||Get the cheapest website for now and worry about quality if I "need" it later.|
|Be on top of the search engines for specific, relevant search phrases.||Be on top of the search engines for hundreds of search terms.||Build quality content, reputable linking partners and a solid social media presence.||Get as many web pages, back links and tweets as possible from any source.|
|Generate targeted traffic, resulting in motivated referrals by phone or email.||Get as many "hits" as possible to increase "odds" of getting a referral.||Publish informative content for people who are interested in my product or service.||Post auto-generated or "free" articles to fill up space and appear helpful.|
|Research my field; offer the latest products, services and information.||Keep doing things in the same way as long as it seems to make money.||Be regarded as a valuable assest - a resource in the field for the long haul.||Discover the latest fad and find a way to get on the bandwagon before it runs out.|
|Have a nicely-designed website that looks professional and is easy to use.||Have a trendy-looking website so visitors think I'm "bigger" than I am.||Value my visitors; make their experience as simple and rewarding as possible.||Employ cool "bells and whistles" at the expense of visitor's time and patience.|
|Have a e-commerce website to increase my market and make more sales.||Have an e-commerce website selling anything so I can quite my day job.||Create a user-freindly shoping experience for products I know and care about.||Put as many products up as possible - eventually somebody will buy something.|
Write this stuff down - carry it around with you in your back pocket for a while. Take it out and look at it now an again. Are you really sure about this? Once you have your goals and priorities clear in your mind, move on to the next step.