Three keys to happiness for your new website - part one

After ten years of working with clients who are struggling with websites that aren’t meeting business needs, I’ve learned that most organizations overlook three important keys to happiness at the very beginning.
     Let’s review those three important things so you won’t repeat those common mistakes.

Happiness key number one – get clear on what you want

Clarity is the key to effective websites. Before you call a web person or start your do-it-yourself effort, be sure you have a firm grasp of three critical things; get clear on your purpose, define your call to action and outline your content.
     What? You thought the web person would do that? How could anyone outside of your organization possibly deliver on those three action items without being a mind reader?
     No – those tasks are yours and yours alone. When these tasks are successfully executed, the organization can prepare a written document called a request for proposals or RFP. When an RFP is developed for a web project, this written recipe will make it much more likely that the project will be finished on time, within budget and to your liking. How is this accomplished? By conducting three team meetings focused on developing a recipe for a new or updated website.
     Note to HiPPOs (that stands for Highest Paid Person in the Organization): HiPPOs are generally the farthest from the customer, client or patient and are singularly unqualified to lead a meeting on customer engagement strategies. HiPPOs suppress communication and drive groupthink. HiPPOs should facilitate, not lead these meetings.
     Why three meetings? I’m a big fan of the ‘three and done’ model of meeting execution. Have an agenda, take notes and set a time limit – good fences make good neighbors just like time and session limits make good meetings.  

What would a good agenda look like? Here’s my favorite recipe:

1.  What is the business or mission purpose of your new site?
  • Increase customer traffic in a brick and mortar business?
  • Increase inquires for your service business?
  • Inform prospective clients of the services your non-profit offers?
If you don't know what you want, you probably won't get it!
      As surprising as it might be, this is where most web projects go off the rails. Keep working on the purpose of the site until the purpose is agreed upon and clearly understood.

2. What is the very next visitor action you need a visitor to take in order to achieve your purpose above?
  • Visit your store?
  • Call your phone number?
  • Click a ‘buy now’ button?
If you don’t tell a visitor what to do next, they probably won’t do it! This is where being clear on the site’s purpose becomes so very important. An effective call to action needs a purpose.

3.What is the minimum information you need to provide to support your purpose and desired action?
  • Does the right information appear?
  • In the right order?
  • In the right place?
  • will your visitor know what to do?
If you don’t help your visitors, your visitors probably won’t help you!
     Note the phrase ‘minimum information.’ This is the Twitter era so no one reads anymore. Whatever needs to be said on the new site needs to be said succinctly or not at all. The most effective websites put all the content in one place, where the visitor can consume all you need to say in a single sitting. Long gone are the days of menus, long form articles and links to “about us” or “testimonials” pages. If it’s not on the first page it’s not going to be seen by anyone.
      Why? Back in the days of the 640 X 480 screen, 256 colors and 56kbps dial up, developers had to break up content into tiny bites and spoon feed content through those tiny spaces. Now we all have faster connections, ten times the screen space and one tenth the attention span.

Once you are clear on these three agenda items, your meeting notes can be turned into an RFP – see how efficient that was?

     Stay tuned for happiness key number two, coming up next!
      Want to learn more about effective sites? Call Kevin, your web-literate business adviser at (360) 447-8788

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