Chances are if you have a website you want it to be a good one (at least we’ll assume that’s the case since you’re on a web design company’s website).  But what does the amorphous term “good website” really mean?  The somewhat annoying but true answer is that all depends on what you want your website to do.

But before you scoff and roll your eyes at this apparent non-answer, hold on a second.  While I can’t tell you without specifics what success means on your organization’s website, I can tell you setting website goals will ultimately help you measure whether or not you have an effective website that’s helping your organization in a meaningful way.  But first let’s talk about why you should care.

The Importance of Website Goals

So why do website goals matter?  Website goals help to inform a lot of the decisions that influence how your website is designed and built.  Knowing what you hope to get out of your site can help you answer a lot of questions, including:

  • What information do we need to prioritize on each page?
  • What’s the best organizational structure for our website?
  • What do we need to allow visitors to do when they visit our website?
  • Is our website actually helping us in any way?

Once you have website goals, you can start making decisions to help realize them.  But how do you come up with these goals in the first place?  Ah, well I’m glad you asked (or at least that I asked for you).

Start with Organizational Goals

Your website should help you meet your organizational goals.  The whole point of having a website is for it to help your organization in some way.

As such, the best place to start is with your organizational goals.  Generate a list of all your goals for the fiscal year.  Identify which goals you think a website could potentially help with.  For instance, let’s say a nonprofit organization is trying to raise 15% more money in donations this year.  Their website could play a huge role in making this organizational goal happen.

Adapt Goals to the Web

It’s important to figure out how your organizational goals can translate into website goals.  How hard it is to adapt these goals really depends on the goals and the functionality of your website.

For instance, let’s stick with the nonprofit that’s trying to raise more money.  If their website allows for online donations, adaptation is easy.  Clearly you’d want to see a boost in online giving through the website.  In this case the organizational goal and the website goal are the same.

But what if their website doesn’t support online donations?  This is where it’s time to get creative in figuring out how this organizational goal of more donation dollars can be translated into a website goal.  Maybe they have a page dedicated to donations and how to donate.  A visit to this page seems like a great goal.  Or maybe they have a contact form for visitors that are interested in hearing more about how to donate.  Another great goal.

As a related semi-tangent, it’s also important for you to remember to ask callers how they found out about you.  Your website can be instrumental in convincing interested visitors to give you a call.  And you likely won’t know how they found you if you don’t ask.

When coming up with website goals it’s important to remember that website traffic shouldn’t be your only goal.  No doubt it’s easy and fun to track total monthly visitors.  But in reality quantity for quantity’s sake doesn’t really matter.  You could get a ton of website traffic, but if these visitors aren’t really interested in what you do and aren’t engaging with your organization in any way they don’t really help you meet your goals.

And yes, I realize the fact I think “it’s easy and fun to track total monthly visitors” makes me a nerd.  But it’s surprisingly fun.  Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it.

Monitoring Using Analytics

While details on how to monitor your goals is outside of the scope of this post, it’s important to make sure you have some sort of monitoring system in place on your website.  We personally love Google Analytics and are planning some future posts to justify our feelings.  But there are many other solutions out there to measure website data.  As long as you have a way to monitor your progress towards achieving your website goals, that’s the most important thing.

Share Your Thoughts

As always, we’d love to hear what you have to say.  Have you gone through the process of determining goals for your website?  What did you come up with?