Why a Website?
When I started building websites for other people, the year was 2011. The last Harry Potter movie had come out, Occupy Wall Street was a thing, and my family had just grown by another boy. I had built a couple of versions of my own website and a few for some friends. This was looking to be a way that I could make some more money so I started putting my name out as a website developer.
Back then, when I would talk to companies about building them a website, whether their first or, even, a second version, they would ask me “Why do I need a website?” I’d detail all the benefits of a website and the ways that it can impact and change the way they market themselves and sometimes people would get it. Sometimes they’d also ask me, “But I have a Facebook page. Why can’t I just use my Facebook page as my website?”
Flash-forward 11 years later and, for the most part, I don’t have to convince companies these days as to why a website is important. In many ways, COVID showed businesses how a website is more important than ever now that we live in a world where we could all be put in lockdown. Where I seem to find roadblocks when talking to companies about websites is the idea of what a website is to a company. They don’t know or can’t see where a website fits into their overall business.
The answer, of course, is right at the center.
What is a Website?
Let’s start with a dictionary definition of a website. This is from Merriam-Webster: “a group of World Wide Web pages usually containing hyperlinks to each other and made available online by an individual, company, educational institution, government, or organization.”
By going off that definition, multiple questions arise from the parts of that definition.
- “World Wide Web pages usually containing hyperlinks to each other…” What do we use to create these web pages? How are they structured? What do they do?
- “…made available online…” Where do I put them online? How do people find them?
- “…by an individual, company, educational institution, government, or organization.” Should they create the website themselves? Hire someone internally or hire a company to do it?
I would take the Merriam-Webster a few steps further to broaden that definition:
A website is a group of World Wide Web pages structured in a strategic way so that users naturally find themselves in a specific place on the website where the user can carry out an action that the individual, company, educational institution, government, or organization wants them to perform.
Meaning, a website should be purposeful and deliver on specific company goals.
How you build it, what it looks like, where it is housed, how people get there, and other hundreds of questions all fall into place after you figure out the most important thing: what do you want people to do on your website?
A Website As an Employee
If you think of a website like an employee, it starts to define how a website works, what it looks like, and what it does. For starters, you wouldn’t hire someone to work for you if you didn’t have a job in mind for them first, right? You wouldn’t just go through all the effort of hiring a person if you didn’t already know what you want them to do. How would you even create a job listing if you didn’t have a job in the first place?
But people do this with websites all the time. They know that they need a website, they know it should have some information about what the company does, that it should maybe look a certain way so that it reflects the ideas and style of the organization, but, beyond that, they don’t really have any specific plans for the website.
You don’t build a website until you know first what you want it to do. And just like an employee, you wouldn’t hire someone if they didn’t have a job that was specifically linked to a goal or goals of the company. Employees deliver results on specific goals. They reflect the mindset, have the overall look and feel, and act on specific tasks built on the goals of the company. They are the heart of an organization.
So should be your website.
A Purposeful Website
If you switch your mindset to figuring out what goals (there should be many but with specific ones or one in mind) you want the website that you are building to deliver on, then you will find yourself making decisions on your website that you might have floundered on before.
For example, if your goal for the year is to grow product sales by 50%, then you probably want to build an eCommerce element to your website so that you can sell products online. The way that your website is structured will be to drive users to the product pages and nudge them to buy. Or to capture their information in some way that you can nudge them with email marketing to come back to the website and buy. A good eCommerce strategy is a combination of effecting on-page marketing and email marketing to nudge them if they don’t buy at first. Right off the bat, you know that you need a website with an eCommerce platform, one that’s easily connected to an email marketing platform, that is integrated with analytics to track progress, and should be built by a company that can build websites with eCommerce platforms, create email marketing journeys, and connect the two.
Companies should know what goal/goals your website should deliver on before they hire whomever to build it, pick a color scheme, look at fonts, or even start writing content. Everything stems from the website’s purpose so you need to know that first.
Up Next in this Series
Over the next couple of blog posts, I’m going to dig into the idea of exploring and deciding on the website’s purpose, choosing partners based upon that decision, and building a website that delivers on the specific goals.
I’d ask you in the meantime to reflect on your organization’s current website and tell me what goals it is built to deliver on.
If any of this intrigues you and you want to hear more about how this connects to your business, you can drop me a line through my contact form or you can set up a time to talk to me: https://cwtwebsites.zohobookings.com/#/customer/4321453000000026017
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