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Design With Purpose

If your website is falling through the cracks, the chances are that the site has no message, no central core to build traffic or a core readership. Websites that try to do everything usually fail.

We begin every web site evaluation by helping you define your web site goals. You can do this yourself. Knowing what your site is supposed to accomplish should be the first step in your design process. Your website success starts with understanding your site's purpose and goals.

Start by grabbing a notepad and pencil and begin brainstorming your website's purpose. Write down everything that comes to mind. Some common goals include:

  • direct sales
  • customer support
  • branding
  • lead generation
  • information/community service
  • solicit donations
  • indirect sales
  • expanded brochure
  • establish credibility with online presence
  • online advertising
  • ???

Now ask yourself what is most important? Prioritize your web site goals so you can prioritize your web site's needs. Sometimes your list will not be linear, it may look more like a bubble chart or be structured more clearly. Your priorities should be reflected in the site organization. Do you lead with you top priorities or are they shyly hidden within your site map?

It's time to get real. Once you understand your goals go to your site and see how close you are to achieving them.

  • If you expect to make online sales you need to offer online ordering. Printable forms just aren't enough.
  • If your site's purpose is to provide information and your site has no content, you can't meet your goals.
  • If you need to get potential customers to contact you ? is it easy or do they have to click a link to find a phone number or email link?
  • Does your text content effectively communicate your site's purpose?ยท Do the images on your site reflect your purpose and your site text?
  • Do you link to websites your visitors would actually be interested in or are your links only reciprocal link building schemes?

Your website content should reflect your site's purpose and nothing else. Start a blog if you want to offer your poetry, opinions or family photos. Don't try to sell widgets and cats on the same site. Focus your attention and you'll grab the attention of the search engines and your target audience alike. A web site evaluation that doesn't begin with these basic questions is doomed to be useless.

Don't waste your time fixing anything on your site until you know what it is supposed to do!

JoMarie Thomson of Crucible Designs has been designing websites since 1997. She offers website success strategies on JoMaries Dot Com for do-it-yourself website makeovers.

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