When Bad Websites Happen to Good People When Bad Websites Happen to Good People When Bad Websites Happen to Good People
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Tip 2: What’s the Point?

There's a fine line between balancing visitor and company objectivesOn the Web, as in life, purpose is everything.

Too many websites are nascent blobs of regurgitated brochures. (We've been dying to say that for a while now...) And, in the hyper-growing world of online communications, mediocre is the fast track to obsolete.

Website mediocrity usually stems from fuzzy generic goals or not understanding what people truly want from your website. It's not good enough to proclaim "Our website will make it easy for visitors to sign up for our newsletter," if the visitor has no interest in doing so. No matter how many SIGN-UP NOW banners there are to attract attention, it's pointless unless value and benefits are clear to the visitor.

Generic goals usually take the form of sweeping statements.

"Our website will enhance customer service" is a lovely, lofty goal, but unfortunately it's not a specific website purpose. How will you improve customer service online – with an FAQ, or online help section? Or perhaps an area to download upgrades, brochures, installation guides or frequently requested forms?

Specific company goals influence site architecture, content and navigation paths. And don't forget the user. What do they want? There's a fine line between balancing visitor and company objectives. And, unfortunately, there is sometimes a complete disconnect between company and visitor desires.

Too often, company and visitor objectives clash.

Company: We want to build customer relationships and raise brand awareness, therefore our website objective is to increase newsletter sign-ups.

Customer: Where's the %$*# online coupon?

It's time to get existential.

Toss aside meaninglessness. Laugh – Ha, Ha, Ha! – in the face of absurdity, and make the pointless...um, "pointful."

Because a deep understanding of your website's purpose precedes every action, from copy to design.

Give your website a purpose, a reason to exist. But to understand your raison d'être, you first must be honest and specific about your company website goals, your users' needs and expectations, and – the key to it all – you must be able to define success.

Get ready to embrace the angst and ask yourself these 5 Big Existential Website Questions

  • Who am I?
  • What is my purpose?
  • Why am I unique/why does my target audience like me?
  • Where can I provide unexpected, delightful value?
  • How will I know I've succeeded?

downloadDownload our free PDF worksheet – Website Goals and Their Content/Design Implications – to help you plan your new site, or your next remake.

Creative Commons LicenseYou are free to use this tip's graphic under this Creative Commons license as long as you provide attribution to When Bad Websites Happen to Good People and provide a link back to this site.

One Response to “Tip 2: What’s the Point?”

  1. 1

    […] your teeth gnash every time you drop by. “Nascent blobs of regurgitated brochures” (Tip 2). Involved in a site refresh or critical overview? You should read these 10 little nuggets of […]

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