How to evaluate a website for effectiveness

A friend and mentor once spoke to clients about his three questions (Yapp’s three rules) that any home page must answer. They were:

 

Who are you?

What do you do?

Who do you do it for?

These questions are the most important goals to accomplish with any home page, as you need to quickly communicate to users about your brand and why should it be relevant to them.

Why the urgency?

Well, for any new or uninformed user, they will spend perhaps a total of < 3 seconds reviewing the site depending on where they came from and why they are there. It is important that they understand your brand and what it means to them.  This is part of the Brand and Messaging problem that most websites face. They fail to understand who they are and what they want to communicate to their customers.

Don't try to be everything for everyone

The second common challenge on many websites is part of the inherent value of the web and leads us to our next set of three rules: Focus, focus, focus!  Most company websites try to communicate to their audience everything that the company wants them to hear. The two challenges inherent here are a lack of priority and not focusing on what the user’s needs are.

For any site — E-commerce, Marketing site, etc. — there are multiple audiences who come to the site. A company needs to prioritize its audiences into a hierarchy and prioritize its messaging and home page real-estate to communicating to them. This has as much to do with messaging as design and user-experience, but the lesson is the same: Focus on the most important users and tell what they need to hear to act on what you want them to act on.

The second challenge stems from the very nature of the web. A website is available to everyone. However, it doesn’t need to speak to everyone who could possibly come to your site. Common secondary audiences for most company sites are press & analysts as well as job seekers. Both of these types of users are motivated to interact with your site and don’t need precious home-page real estate dedicated to them. They know where to find the news and careers sections (in the About Us) of your site with little effort as long as your navigation is clear and you have a site map.

It's about your audience - not you

My organizations architect their websites as a reflection of their internal structures and hierarchy.  This is a common mistake.  Websites should be designed to the needs of your audience in the way they want to engage with your brand and their needs.  Not designing your website's architecture, messaging, value proposition and navigation to your primary audience's needs will create frustration and lower levels of engagement.  

Think mobile first

The majority of website traffic today are typically from mobile or tablet devices.  Therefore, you need to ensure that the website be equally as effective in the mobile format as this will likely be the first impression your brand has with your target audience.  Designing a website to be effective in a smaller format is challenging and requires extreme diligence to properly tell your brand story and drive engagement.  Companies who neglect the mobile experience are making a big mistake.  However, we still find many companies that are not prepared for a mobile first world. 

Brand experience needs to be consistent beyond the website

When our team evaluates digital ecosystems and website for our clients, we are keen to examine the swim lanes in the customer's journey.  The reason is your customers are likely to visit varying digital properties representing your brand from Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Email, Landing pages, Whitepapers, Mobile Applications and beyond.  If the brand experience and story are disconnected across these varying assets, you will create confusion and lose the ability to drive home the key brand impressions you hope to achieve.  

Basic website evaluation benchmarks:

  1. Clearly articulate your Brand Value Proposition through a structured Messaging Architecture which addresses the main three questions:
    1. Who are you?
    2. What do you do?
    3. Who do you do it for?
  2. Focus your efforts on your home page on convincing the primary users of your website on what you want them to do.
  3. Prioritize your messaging through clear design and user-experience on focused messages to your users satisfying what they need to know and how you want them to act.
  4. Is your website designed to the needs of your audiences first?
  5. Is your mobile optimized website effective?
  6. Are all your digital properties working in synergy to reinforce your brand?

Our Offer

If you would like a complementary review and assessment of your website, we would be delighted to evaluate your website and provide some insights and thoughts.  Contact us with the form below:

 

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