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Define a clear goal for your website

Back in the days, everyone and their dog wanted to have a website for any reason. Even just to display dog/cat photos.

But when it comes to business websites, there is investment and return involved. If you invest in the website, you expect to get a return on investment (ROI). And to get any return, your site needs to have a goal, according to which all the actions will be compared.

What is a website goal?

Basically any website can have a goal:

  • inform family and friends of life happenings
  • share news, thoughts and links about one's interests
  • communicate with people across the globe
  • have fun, entertain oneself and others
  • make profit by selling information, services, software, etc

When you define the goal of your website, it should become more clear about:

  • who your audience is
  • what exactly you are offering
  • what the benefits of your offer are
  • what you need to have on your website
  • where online and offline your audience roams

Ultimately, by knowing your goal, you'll be able to define the action your audience needs to perform on your website. It is the only or primary action you want your visitors to do. It can be anything:

  • contacting you
  • signing up for a newsletter, newspaper, magazine, etc
  • downloading/buying software
  • buying an ebook, article
  • successfully using an online tool
  • posting an article/post, commenting
  • any other traceable action important both to you and your audience

How to define website goal?

As mentioned above, the site goal comes from the reason to have a website. You want the website for something? Then someone has to do something on the website. That action is your website goal.

Imagine that you can have only one action on the website. What would it be? That's your website goal. Beyond this definition, only you can define what exactly you want to do on your website or have other people do something on your website.

By defining the action you want your visitors to perform on your website, you make it incredibly easy to build your website about it, as well as to track your website and your audience progres.

How to benefit from the goal?

First of all, knowing the goal helps you define your actions you will need to do around the website:

When you research the audience and the market, you see if the audience will be willing to do what you want them to do on your website.

Another important moment about having a clear goal in mind is that you'll be able to target at your audience precisely and neglect untargeted ideas, tips and whatever someone without the right knowledge will come up with.

By peeking at your competition, you check if there is anyone doing what you are going to do. If not, good. If yes, you can make your offer unique from scratch.

While researching keywords, you'll think what people using those queries were searching for and how likely they will be to complete the desired goal on your website.

The website design will depend on how the audience is succeptible to the visuals. If your target audience is women and you sell furniture or expensive clothes, you'll need a bright, fashionable website with plenty of high resolution photos. If you are targetting librarians, you might as well stick with text.

Obviously, the website will be structured around the site goal, along with the click path and information scent.

Depending on the goal, you'll create the content around it and your target audience.

Of course, making it extremely easy to complete the goal should be great. You can measure the time it takes to complete it, as well as the percentage of visitors that complete it (conversion rate).

By making your website accessible, you may also increase your customer base by 10-20% (the amount of people with disabilities in US/UK).

And, naturally, all the above, including the goal, will influence how successful you are with promoting your website, as well as the tactics you use to market it.

Just as well your site will be highly targeted and will be perceived as very useful to your audience, ultimately leading to increased conversions, whatever the conversion is.

Rounding up

Regardless of where you are in improving your website, having a clear goal in mind always helps.

If you don't have one (the goal, or both), investing time, efforts and money in the website will probably not pay off, unless you do it for entertainment, learning something new and other intangible personal reasons.

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Comments

As obvious as it may seem I think a lot of people forget to set goals for their site. It's probably fine if your site is a personal site, but for a business your site goals should come before anything else.

If a business can't state its goals for a site it doesn't need a site. Everything else comes from these goals, from the look of the site to the content written to the way the information is structured.

If more businesses set goals or at least pretended to do that, they'd be much, much more successful. Some wouldn't start and fail immediately, too. Some would succeed more (me, for example).

Btw, doesn't this post strike you as familiar? I re-created it under the same URL, as it was demolished during my recent Digg flood.

Thanks for stopping by!

You'd think people would start to figure it out wouldn't you? I think it comes down to the web making it so easy for people to create sites and businesses. That's a great thing, but it's also a bad thing, because in making it so easy people get misled into thinking they don't need to spend the time developing a real business model and creating real goals.

There's still the 'if you build it they will come and buy' mentality out there.

I'm with you in that I could have done a better job setting those goals from the outset, but I know both of us did have goals in mind for our sites and have business models behind our sites. Maybe we can both improve the goals and models, but we're that much closer for at least having them.

The post does seem familiar, but I don't mind reading good advice more than once.

Ease of entry is one thing. Lack of knowledge is another. Spot on.

You'd think people would hire SEO consultants from time to time, eh?

The thing is, however, as I mentioned earlier sometime, riding on fixed goals may get you in trouble, either. In various success stages, a site may be suitable for one thing, than in another. And after some time passes, it will be able to do and drive more things, too.

However, even outlining the possible paths to go and a course of action, as well as a well-thought-out amount of time, effort and money to be put in a website with possible returns and timing, is a must.

P.S. It seems I have written the post from scratch again. That's why it may only seem familiar. Though the readers, who have joined since the fall of '06, should find it useful, too.

And it's a better post, than the one I had, I think, too.

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