4 Website Goals to Consider Before You Start Designing and Developing
Here’s how most businesses build a website. Key stakeholders, marketers, designers, and content creators meet to identify the reasons they’re creating or redesigning a new website. They want their brand to be a thought leader, to appear professional, to boost product sales, to increase the brand’s visibility, or to impress clients.
Based on those reasons, they make decisions about the kind of design templates, fonts, colors, content, and graphics that will comprise the site. They’ll carefully analyze every digital asset, every sentence, every wireframe until it matches up with all of their qualitative goals.
Rarely do these high-level decision-makers think about achievable, quantitative goals for their website. They’re simply too focused on what the new site means for their business to push up their sleeves and examine raw data. Frequently, the result is a very beautiful website that very few people visit.
Don’t fall into this trap. Before you start designing and developing your website, discover which metrics you should track and how to interpret the data they provide. Read on to learn more.
1. Visitor Traffic
Traffic, the number of people who visit your site, is the gold standard of all website metrics. Regardless of your qualitative goals, you’re building a website to attract visitors and subsequently make an impression on those visitors.
Two types of traffic serve as a baseline measure for how well you’re reaching your audience: total visits and unique visitors.
Unique visitors refers to the number of people requesting access to a particular web page during a predetermined period of time. A unique visitor can only be counted once during that time frame. If your site gets 1,000 hits in a month but all of those hits are from your mother, then your site only has one unique visitor.
Total visits include all of the visitor traffic your site sees during a predetermined period of time. It encompasses unique visitors as well as repeat visitors. Therefore, if 10 people visit your website twice, then your site has 10 unique visitors and 20 total visits.
Why is it necessary to differentiate between these two traffic categories? They provide very different information. Unique visitor growth typically means you’re expanding your website’s reach. Total visit growth indicates that your website content is landing with your audience.
2. Bounce Rate
What if thousands of visitors are flocking to your website, but only a limited number of them seem to be interacting with your content? Look at your site’s bounce rate, the total amount of bounces divided by the total number of visitors.
Google Analytics counts a site visit as a “bounce” if a visitor lands on one of your web pages and then closes the window or hits Back. These visits are also known as single-page sessions.
A high site-wide bounce rate indicates that, while your site might be optimized with keywords and buzzworthy headlines, it’s not offering high-value content to your audience. It also may indicate a sub-optimal user experience such as incorrectly targeted keywords and slow loading web pages.
In addition to representing a less-than-positive website experience for your audience, a high bounce rate can negatively impact your site’s search engine results. As a result, it’s paramount to reduce your site’s bounce rate.
Start by reviewing the bounce rate of each web page. Be aware that different pages within your site will have wildly different bounce rates. For example, it’s common for blogs to have higher bounce rates than landing pages.
To decrease your website’s bounce rate, consider removing the pages that are increasing the site-wide bounce rate or streamlining the site navigation to improve the user experience.
3. Traffic Sources
Where your traffic comes from is almost as important as how much traffic your site gets.
To give you some guidance, Google Analytics measures four kinds of traffic sources: organic search (traffic from search engines), referral (traffic from other websites), direct (traffic from someone typing your website domain into their browser), and social (traffic from social media channels).
Traffic source metrics offer actionable data about your marketing efforts. Organic search traffic numbers will tell you how effectively your search engine optimization is. Referral traffic indicates how much the content you’ve linked on other sites, such as guest posts, drives visitors to your site.
Direct traffic is an excellent measurement of repeat visitors, loyal customers, and followers. People who type in your URL already know and love your site. Instead of needing to search for you or discovering you, they come straight to your website.
Social traffic indicates how shareable and compelling your social media posts are. Big social traffic numbers point to an effective social media strategy.
Though it’s difficult to achieve, it’s important to strive for well-balanced sources of traffic. For example, if you’re relying on social media to drive traffic, then you could be neglecting your site’s search engine optimization and missing out on organic search traffic. Conversely, if your site has huge organic, direct, and referral numbers but nominal social sources, then you’re overlooking the massive global audience found on social media channels.
4. Conversion Rate
Every website has a goal for its visitors. Maybe it’s filling out a Contact Us form. Maybe it’s downloading a white paper. Maybe it’s completing an online purchase. That goal is called a conversion.
Your website’s conversion rate measures the number of unique visitors and divides it by the total number of conversions. A high conversion rate means your website design, user experience, and content is working well. Even still, you’ll want to tinker and make small improvements to continually increase your site’s conversion rate.
Low conversion rates are a red flag. If your website isn’t converting, then start by examining its functionality. A broken link, for example, will prevent visitors from completing a conversion. Complicated site navigation also can confuse visitors, decreasing your site’s overall number of conversions.
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As you start brainstorming what will go on your website, review the metrics we’ve outlined, and determine which will help you determine the effectiveness of your website. Instead of making design and content decisions based entirely on aesthetics, use these quantitative measures to inform your most important web development decisions.