Purpose: Are you making this strategic website mistake?

Does it's singular purpose make it successful?

Does it's singular purpose make it successful?

Why do you have a website?

Is it because everyone else has one, so you thought you ought to have one too?

Anecdotal research tells us that 80% of websites don’t have a clearly defined purpose. So, if you’ve made the classic mistake of building a website and are now wondering what to do with it, or even, whether it works, then read on…

What is the purpose of your website?

In our last article, we talked about the cost of a visitor to your website, and how this can vary from a couple of pence or cents to anything up to 10 GBP or over 15 US Dollars (such as the UK Government’s www.UKTradeInvest.gov.uk website).

Whilst this information on costs shows a massive variation, could it be that the 10 GBP per visitor cost to the UKTradeInvest website is money well spent? Well, perhaps it is, but firstly, this will depend on what the website is for, or put it another way, what the website is attempting to achieve.

In a similar way, if you were asked ‘what is the purpose of your website’ would you be able to give a clear and confident answer?

To help solve this problem, we’ve taken a look at the web and can come up with this list of reasons or purposes for any website. Which of these purposes fit your website(s)?

  • Digital business card (make the phone ring – could be a one page site with you phone number on it)
  • Digital brochure(static content and generate enquries – might be anything from a 6 or 8 page site )
  • e-commerce (to sell products online – which will a database driven website)
  • Magazine (to promote corporate messages, update on relevant news, demonstrate brand values, generate brand loyalty or to sell advertising and membership services – such as this one or www.EnterpriseFreelanceFair.co.uk – and requires a CMS or Content Management System)
  • Community(to allow community to connect to each other – independent of the media and either promote your corporate messages or sell advertising such as LinkedIn or Facebook etc… but could also include smaller communities – such as teachers)
  • Deliver internal or service data (so a corporate intranet, an added value customer service site – such as DHL giving real time tracking of a parcel or a Government website – with the purpose of improving your product/ service)
  • A redirect site (if you buy a .com and a .co.uk domain, you’ll want to redirect one to the other, or you may set up a corporate home and redirect traffic to your sub-domains, a bit like www.MediaModo.co.uk)

Okay, let’s take some examples. www.DHL.com – this site combines a number of the above purposes – so it is a corporate brochure, an e-commerce site and also it delivers data about the movements of your parcel or shipping.

Equally, our favourite high cost site www.uktradeinvest.gov.uk (which costs 10 GBP or 15 US Dollars to run) is very complex and appears to attempting to deliver the purposes listed above – it is a brochure for the UK, it is attempting deliver information both in magazine format as well as a data driven service. It also appears to have a community aspect to it too with login and restricted parts of the website.

Now, we don’t know the cost metrics of the DHL website, but given the size of its business and customer base, the costs are probably a lot lower per visitor than the UKTradeInvest website.

Other sites, such as www.number10.gov.uk (which only costs 2p or 3c per visitor to run) have a very simple purpose and that is a Magazine to promote corporate or Government messages.

So what can we entrepreneurs learn from this?

Again, we don’t have access to the ROI (Return on Investment) measures for the different websites, but it is absolutely clear that the web lives up to its promise of being cheap and simple if – and only if – you build websites with a single purpose – such as the www.number10.gov.uk website.

Once you go beyond the singular purpose,  and if your website begins to manage multiple roles and has a number of different purposes it will become very complex (and anything complex has a higher risk of failure) and much more expensive per visitor.

If you are a large company with a large number of customers, then the complexity may pay for itself on a cost per visitor basis. But if you are not a DHL, but just an inward investment agency or national based business, then the costs will be too high in most cases.

The advice then, if you want to build economically viable websites with multiple purposes and don’t want to pay 10 GBP per visitor, is to create separate website for each purpose and then a single / central brand brochure website which directs traffic to the correct website.

There is still some work to be done on multiple domains and subdomains – but this will cost far less than then integrating complex ‘heavy lifting’ computer systems into a single domain / home page.

The alternative, again, if you don’t like this complexity (and its associated cost) is to make a radical decision and choose just one purpose – then build a website that meets that purpose.

That – single purpose websites – after many years of getting it wrong and thinking the web is a complex place, is what successful entrepreneurs are now doing. So, do you now have a clear purpose in mind for your website?

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by Editor

Leader. Speaker. Trainer. Helping snr execs and entrepreneurs achieve their business and funding goals.

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4 Responses to “Purpose: Are you making this strategic website mistake?”

  1. by Editor says:

    Are our website costs too high because we try to build confused / complex websites without a single purpose?

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by bodyproject and bodyproject, neil lewis. neil lewis said: Are our website costs too high because we try to build confused / complex websites without a single purpose? http://lnkd.in/GVB_d- […]

  3. Kate Bean says:

    Hi,

    Thanks for an interesting article. I agree with what you have said, but I think that you have missed out one vital part.

    The cost per visitor is very highly dependent upon how many visitors you have.

    Let’s take an example. My website cost £1,000 to get built and setup (values for easy calculation), if I have 100 visitors per year, clearly the site costs me £10 per visitor per year. Now with 1000 visitors in the year it is £1 per visitor per year, etc.

    The real metric which affects the numbers is the total number of visitors who visit. This is of course made more complex by, are the visitors doing what you would like them to do? In many cases of course the answer is no, they came to the site, found it wasn’t what they wanted, perhaps because the site is an e-commerce site and it is in the wrong country.

    Do we now count total number of visitors or number of targeted visitors? I don’t really have an answer to that, it depends upon the websites goals, but knowing there is a difference is important.

    I think the really important thing, as you suggest is knowing what you want from your website and being able to measure it.

    I will pose a question to you, how does one measure the ROI for any non-tangible, such as customer support?
    Kate

  4. by Editor says:

    Hi Kate “how do you measure ROI for a customer support website”?

    The answer here Kate is that you don’t.

    The only purposeful measure you can make is to compare the cost per visitor of your customer website with the cost per visitor of (say) your e-commerce website.

    This comparison is useful because it will make the e-commerce site people think about putting messages in or around the customer service site to tap the traffic!

    Of course, ultimately, customer service / satisfaction has to be measured as a whole – and then you look at the component parts of your cost of delivering that service in order to decide where and how to invest your cash.

    Br
    Neil

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