A website strategy is a deliberate, long-term plan that allows you to design a website with specific objectives and goals in mind. Just as all businesses need a plan, websites need a strategy.
All websites should exist to serve some sort of purpose, and those with an effective strategy behind them function as a way to achieve that purpose. Depending on the objectives of the business, this could be to make sales, provide information or services, increase your number of sign-ups, or just about anything else.
The exact strategies for these different business objectives will differ, but there are elements that all website strategies share. They outline the direction the website will go in and have an end result in mind, as well as being an extension of your marketing strategy.
Gorgeous interfaces designed with no greater purpose in mind aren’t strategic. Websites need more than just aesthetically pleasing graphics, and that’s where strategy comes in.
When you’re strategic, you create a journey towards the ultimate goal the website aims to achieve.
So, before worrying about designing, developing, or anything else, take the time to devise a strategy that’s right for your website.
Image Source: Bluewire Media
As mentioned, it helps you to outline the purpose of your website and to set and achieve goals for your business.
If you focus solely on what your business wants out of a website, you may alienate your customers and neglect their needs. Likewise, focusing only on the customer may mean missing out on business growth.
Having a website strategy allows you to:
These days, it’s easier and more affordable than ever to create a beautiful looking website, but that doesn’t mean you’re creating a functional or effective one. With the amount of websites out there all looking the same, not to mention those of your competitors, you need to be able to stand out in the digital environment.
In addition to all this, your digital marketing relies on your website strategy too.
You can put loads of effort into your social media marketing and spend a ton on well-researched, well-targeted ad campaigns, but if the website you’re sending people to isn’t cohesive, all that hard work to attract your audience will have been for nothing.
Whether you’re re-designing the website, or starting from scratch, it’s important that you follow a strategic process.
Designing, building, and optimizing all come secondary. Start by giving your strategy some serious consideration by following these steps:
In the very beginning, you’re going to require in-depth information that will be essential to planning out your strategy. This involves getting to know your business, the industry and your competitors, and your clients.
Undertake some of the following actions during this research and discovery phase:
If you’re redesigning, you can also:
Defining your objectives gives your website a clear purpose and mission. Knowing what they are early on plays a huge role in the success of your website. In fact, Forbes has listed unidentified business objectives as one of the top reasons that so many websites fail.
The most common objectives are to increase sales and revenue, create brand awareness, enhance customer experience and satisfaction, and attract and retain more clients.
The objectives you set will come from considering both the user and the business. The aim is to find a happy medium between what your audience wants and what your business needs. One or the other won’t do.
Image Source: Katalyst Creative Group
Goals are precise, measured actions you need to take to carry out your objectives. Don’t just have a vague idea of your website’s purpose — determine what it can achieve and how.
The stakeholders and teams you’ve spoken to may have provided a figure they’re trying to reach. When creating goals, think about how your website can help to achieve those targets for the business.
Make sure you focus on how you can achieve your objectives and don’t get stuck setting vanity goals. Increasing traffic is great, but if it’s not resulting in sales or leads, it’s just a number and not really the best outcome.
Set your goals according to the strategic, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely criteria.
Image Source: Smarter Website Owner
Your messaging needs to be tailored to your audience, while still reflecting the needs of the business. Your website is a way to engage with current or potential customers, so content must be relevant to them.
By now, you know the audience you’re targeting. Determine the best ways to interact with them by asking the following questions:
The kind of content you’ll create depends on what kind of landing page you’re sending users to. Yes, there’s more than one type of landing page.
If your objective is driving traffic and educating, you’ll want to keep your audience engaged through various types of content, be it blog posts, videos, and infographics. There will also generally be a fair few links to other pages on your website to encourage your audience to stick around and explore.
If the purpose of your website is to make sales, you’ll need to focus on long-form content that showcases benefits, builds trust, gets users to keep scrolling, and motivates them to take immediate action.
If your aim is to procure newsletter signups, the landing page will contain less content. Instead, it’ll center around a form, or maybe it’ll be a splash page. You may also want to offer free downloads such as worksheets in exchange for their email address.
Learn about the various types of landing pages to see which ones will work best for your website’s purpose.
What about other pages on your site that users may not necessarily visit first?
If clients are always calling or emailing asking the same questions, your website could do with a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section. You can find out the type of content and web pages you may need via a content gap analysis.
Don’t create content without a purpose, or without knowing who it’s for. Everything on your website should exist as a way to achieve the goals of the business.
Your previously set objectives and goals give meaning to your analytics. How will you analyze your web traffic and visitor behavior if you don’t know what it means to your business?
Here you are able to find out if your strategy is working as intended, and see what changes can be made to your website to better achieve your goals.
When you’re first starting out, measuring the success of your website strategy can be as simple as the free Google Analytics software. Pay attention to engagement and conversion metrics, but dig deeper rather than just looking at the numbers.
Maybe you’re receiving longer visits, but is that because users are struggling to understand your messaging or failing to find the information they’re looking for? Make sure that an increase in page views isn’t due to a fault in your navigation, messaging, or content.
You can also use heatmaps to gain insights into user behavior. Seeing the way visitors interact with your interface will give you an idea of how to further improve your website strategy.
Above all, remember the famous quote: "If you can't measure it, you can't improve it."
Remember, website design will only be successful if you’re intentional and have specific, measurable goals set.
Without a strategy, your website will never live up to its full potential. Allow your website to grow your reach, sales, customers, and business overall by developing an effective and tailor-made strategy.
However, don’t let yourself get too stressed out and avoid taking action. Take your time going through the five steps outlined, and repeatedly ask yourself throughout the process, “What’s the end purpose?”
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