Define

Define the audience and the message

  • Define the core message of the website / the company.
    • The customer should be able to sum up the core message of your brand in one sentence
    • „Skype: Call your friends over the Internet for free“ Intuitive, easy to understand, USP and benefit are clear.
  • Define the Product.
    • Identify features and products that are attractive to the target audience.
    • Identify features and products that separate your company from the competition.
    • „Why should the customer buy my product/service and not that of a competitor?“
  • Define the target audience.
    • Who wants what I am selling?
    • Where can I find them online?
    • Research forums, blogs, etc. to define the concerns & needs of the target group.

Define aims and objectives

It is not enough to only have a vague idea of what you hope to achieve online, to simply say to ourselves „we should be doing something online“.

  • Set targets.
    • Possible targets: „sell products“, „generate leads“, „inform people about our brand/products“, „do something cool online“, „collect addresses for direct marketing“.
  • Define a means of qualifying whether these targets are being met.
    • Implement tracking mechanisms.
    • Set target pages.
    • Track referrals.
    • Track search engine ranking.
  • Consider your staff’s typical interaction with potential customers.
    • Can this interaction take place online?
  • Consider what support questions can be answered online.

Develop

Design / usability

  • Ensure that the design supports the core message.
  • Ensure that the design conforms to the Corporate Design, if applicable.
  • Identify the technological level of my target group.
    • Should I use rich media (flash/video)?
    • If yes, then provide alternate content, if applicable.
  • Meet applicable accessibility guidelines.

Content

  • Tell people what the product can do for them.
    • Don’t go on about how great your company is.
  • Structure your website to meet the perceived needs of your users.
    • The website must not reflect the internal workings of you company.
  • Content is king!
    • It’s not possible to have too much content, as long as it is properly organised. The more content available, the more traffic your site will receive from search engines.
    • Use existing content from other media.
    • Date content, especially if it is likely to go out of date.
  • Define search terms.
    • Think about what people are likely to search for.
    • Build these search terms into the content, when possible into page titles, headlines, and URLs.
  • If applicable, allow users to create (possibly moderated) content on your site.
    • Comments
    • Forums
  • Implement new features.
    • New features help differentiate the website from the competition.

Traffic generation

Consider how traffic to the site will be generated.

  • Use already existing media.
  • Promote on existing company websites / newsletters.
  • Promote on partner websites / newsletters, if available. Reciprocate links.
  • Budget for one or more of the following:
    • Banner campaigns & landing pages.
    • Affiliate Marketing.
    • Keyword Marketing.
    • Online PR.
    • Blog / Forum commenting.
    • Co-operations with other sites.
    • Viral campaigns.

Promote user loyalty

  • Allow and promote user feedback.
  • Respond to user feedback.
  • Provide a newsletter.
  • Provide RSS feeds.
  • Provide services/offers of genuine value for registered users
    • Promote these services appropriately on the website.
  • Where applicable, provide the user with a means of personalisation.
    • Store settings in a cookie.
    • Save user data for faster processing during repeat visits.
  • Over deliver.
    • Give the user more than he/she is expecting when she came to your site. He/she will be more likely to return / to recommend the site.

Maintenance

  • Identify which parts of the website require regular updates / maintenance.
  • Identify who is responsible for that maintenance.
  • Draw up a maintenance schedule, and keep to it.
    • Be realistic about what can be achieved.
    • New content delivered at regular intervals increases user loyalty. I’m more likely to return to a site that I know is regularly updated, or I’ll more readily subscribe to a newsletter of RSS feed.
  • Identify who is responsible for answering user feedback.
    • Implement a ticket system to ensure that user feedback doesn’t go unanswered.

Monitor

Gather all the available information.

  • User tracking
  • Newsletter tracking
    • Readership
    • Bounce rates
    • Percentage opened
    • Through clicks
  • RSS feeds
    • Circulation
    • Through clicks
  • Keyword performance
  • Banner performance

Analyse

Analyse what the information gathered through tracking mechanisms tells us about users experience on the website.

  • Identify points of entry, and bounce rates.
    • If a high percentage of users are only viewing one or two pages, evaluate if the core message is being transmitted on high-entry pages, and if the defined scenarios are being catered for.
  • Are target sites being reached?
    • Where are people leaving the site?
    • Identify possible reasons why people leave the site. This could be due to usability issues (users can’t find what they’re looking for), or content issues (what they’re looking for isn’t available).
  • What percentage of visits generate leads / meet the designated targets?

Modify

An analysis of the tracking information gathered is worthless unless acted upon. Successful websites are in a constant state of change.