6 Steps to Web Strategy

Connecting your goals to your users

October 29, 2014

I was browsing the other day and I saw this great page with tons of great effects. Can you build one of those for my site?

I love the opportunity to add beautiful hovers to a site. But before I put the time in, I want to make sure it supports the communication strategy and helps achieve the web goals. Before designing solutions, work with stakeholders to establish a strategy. Here are six steps to mapping your strategy.

1. Connect the Goals

You have a goal; your users have motivations. Create a strategy that will connect the two.

Define the overarching goal. Identify the website interactions that will support the larger objective. For example, the goal is to get donations from businesses. One goal of the website may be to get a business representative to sign up for an event, where attendance will increase the likelihood of a financial contribution.

2. Get to know the audience and give them what they want

First, narrow the field by identifying the lowest hanging fruit. Focus your efforts on the group that will give you the highest return on investment. You can always add or adjust your reach at a later time. Marketing stats may be useful, but you also need to do some role-playing and get in their head. Create a persona that typifies the group. Specify the person’s motivations, interactions with the web and technology, and their relationship to your organization.

Then, based on your knowledge of the audience, construct your strategy to make it easy for them to complete your web goal. Make sure your audience is a good fit for your goals. And create your content and design based on their needs. If your audience is looking for new customers, their decision to sign up for your event will largely depend on whether or not they think the event will help them gain new customers.

3. Give them only what they want

I hate going to restaurants with a 12-page menu. It’s too many choices. And I’m not the only one who suffers from choice paralysis. Keep it simple. Too many choices will add clutter and distract from the real goal.

4. Differentiate Your Product

If you’re competing for scarce resources, you need to differentiate your product so that a user wants to spend their limited time and money with you. Tailor your product, content, and design to your user and make it the best option.

5. Integrate the Website Into a Larger User Experience

Create a story for the persona that includes all of the touch points with your organization.

  • How does the user get to the new website feature?
  • What questions do they have when they get there?
  • What do they see that will compel them to take the intended action?
  • How does the user interact with the organization before and after the visit?

Your story should be plausible. Support it with data as much as possible. Make sure the user’s interactions with the organization are consistent and synergistic across all mediums. As Paul Boag describes, “don’t just create a new website, create a new culture.”

6. Document the Strategy

3 months from now, maybe 3 hours from now, everyone will remember the strategy in a different way. Document the process and use it as your guiding principle when designing and implementing your strategic solution.

  1. Webpage goal
    • Describe the action we want the user to take and how we would measure if a user has taken the action.
    • There is only one goal per document. If you have multiple goals, duplicate this document for each action.
    • Describe how the action will support the larger fundraising goals.
  2. Target Audience
    • Describe the target audience, be as specific as possible.
    • Pick the low hanging fruit, we can expand our focus at a later date.
    • Consider creating a persona that typifies the members of the group.
    • List the users’ primary motivations (conscious or unconscious)
  3. Context
    • Describe how users will get to the webpage.
    • Describe what questions users may have when they arrive at the webpage.
    • Describe how we interact with them before and after their interaction with the webpage.
  4. The Pitch
    • Describe how the page compels them to take the intended action.
    • Consider content, context, and design.
    • To the degree that we are asking the user to part with scarce resources (time, money, mutual exclusivity, etc), describe how we differentiate against the competition.
    • Consider customizing the pitch to the specifics of the target audience.

Use the completed document to guide your design decisions. If you decide that a hover effect is the perfect addition to your strategy, use the document to inform the specifics of the hover effect and to measure it’s effectiveness.