Why do you need a new website? The importance of a clear purpose
Quite often here at Coast we talk about clarity of purpose in website projects. By this we mean having a clear objective or mandate that the entire project team is working towards. It is through our experience, extremely important and can make or break the success of a new website. Following on from our recent webinar What Makes A Successful Website, I thought it would be worthwhile exploring some of the key questions around clarity of purpose.
1. Why do you need a clear purpose when building a website?
A lack of purpose quite often leads to confusion in the message and journeys through the website early on and during the project. For a project team a joint understanding of the reason why a new website is required is essential, it gives everyone a shared aim to work towards and allows decisions to be made more efficiently throughout the project through having strong prioritisation of needs.
Other important reasons why you should think about codifying a clearly defined purpose for your new website early on are that it can define what success will look like, making it easier to evaluate the project on its completion.
2. How can you arrive at a site purpose?
Site purpose is usually derived from the strategic objectives of the organisation. As such it sets the overall framing for what needs to be achieved. It can come from a number of places although typically we first get an idea of what it might be in the brief. We would advise anyone beginning their website project to clearly define why a new website is needed in relation to the commercial direction of the organisation as it can help improve the responses you will have from your brief.
It’s also important to break down what the overall purpose might be as it is frequently multi-faceted. For example: We quite often hear that the purpose of the website is to make more revenue. On a purely commercial basis this is sound thinking, but more revenue can manifest itself in different ways when it comes to actually creating a new website. It could mean selling more products, it could mean increasing upselling or it could mean improving customer retention; all can achieve the purpose, but will impact user experiences on the website in starkly different ways.
It is also worthwhile when building a business case or brief for a website to engage stakeholders from around the business. This gives a wide cross section of goals and objectives for the new website, it will also help you to understand where the current site is failing certain departments and engages people that would otherwise be left out of the process. It’s important to stress that this isn’t giving your stakeholders carte blanche to create a shopping list of features, just their input into how the website can help them achieve their own goals.
With these wider objectives accumulated, you can then use a steering group to prioritise and ultimately, find what the website will need to do to be deemed a success.
3. How to resolve conflicts in purpose?
Of course opening up the website direction to across an organisation can cause its own conflicts as different departments push their own agendas. This is where it pays to have a strong steering group who are able to take all of the goals from around the business and prioritise these in accordance with the strategic objectives of the organisation. Ultimately your website is a tool to help your organisation achieve its objectives, understanding what those objectives are and how they relate to online experiences should be deemed the foundation of any website project.
Find out more about website purpose and user research in our guide How To Make Your Next Website A Success or you can watch our webinar below: