This question (and others like it) is probably the most common question myself and others from bit10, get asked when talking to potential and new clients.
The answer is rarely the same however there are often common themes, and generally the problem is generally pretty easy to find.
So if you find yourself dissatisfied with the performance of your site, try asking answering these questions:
- Why do you think your website is not delivering?
- How do you measure the effectiveness of your webite? All too often we find that customers are doing very little to measure the effectiveness of their site and/or any marketing activity they are doing alongside the site.All too often we find that customers are doing very little to measure the effectiveness of their site and/or any marketing activity they are doing alongside the site.
- What is the target audience for your website? People often give me a kind of ‘you what? are you stupid? Its obvious!’ type of look to this question. However the truth is that its often not obvious, organisations have many reasons for having a website beyond just sales, although they do not always realise it!A classic example is that we often come across customers who are getting loads of traffic to their website but no new business, upon applying some decent tracking software we discover that its all graduates looking for jobs!, and in the truth the site has little appeal to potential customers.
Ensure you are aware of all the key audiences for your site that you want to target and you cater for them accordingly.
- What agencies do you use to help you? Are they any good?! Working for (and owning!) an Internet solutions agency, bit10, I always find this question difficult to ask customers, and do it without being biased!Often we find ourselves in the position of only providing part of the solution, for example usability testing a site where we have not done the implementation, hence we end up assessing and providing feedback on other agencies work, so we get too see the extremes of what other agencies are delivering…There are a lot of great agencies out there, however there a lot of very poor ones who can let you down in many ways (for example focusing on design before/instead of information architecture).
Choose your partner agencies carefully, we have done a useful white paper that might help, you can find it here.
- What does your target audience think of your website, can they use it? We have an expression here at bit10, ‘if your users can’t use your website, its not usable’, seemingly obvious, however a subtle point missed by most website administrators.Neither can you, as the project sponsor, company owner, web developer actually can say for sure that your site is usable by your users.
The only way to ensure your website is usable by your target user is to do real usability testing. Get some expert help to test your site on a sample of your typical audience.
- How are you telling people about your website?
This is pretty straight forward, in the short term if you do not promote your site/business via the web and/or other channels you will get little or no traffic. In the longer term as your site gets indexed by the Google, Yahoo you will eventually get traffic, however this will take time and even then may not deliver the results you are looking for.
There are many ways to promote your site, from traditional offline promotion to Google Adwords. Whatever you decide to do ensure it is part of your overall web strategy.
Often we find customers have not actually set any expectations or targets for their site at the outset, and we often hear unqualified answers like ‘Well we only got 10 orders last week from the site.’.
It is imperative that up front you and your stakeholders are clear on the expected performance of the site. Make sure you set targets for visitors, hits, revenue and what ever else might be relevant to you business or service.
This is really only the tip of the iceberg, but should help you begin to root out the problems behind an apparently unsuccessful site.