The Importance of Goal Setting for Web Design

By Kat Scholtz on 2009/06/29

Setting goals based on your client’s and your organisation’s needs can dictate design and navigation choices and ultimately determine how you measure the return on investment.

There are some obvious standards you’ll want to meet with your Web Design. Your website should reflect your brand, demonstrate the quality and relevance of your company (through fresh and modern look and feel) and be easy for your users to engage with. These objectives are simple to list, but making them a reality requires a thorough understanding of what you can and should achieve with your site.
By setting specific targets, related to the amount of time people spend on your site or the number of repeat visits you get (for example), you can ensure that your website is a marketing tool and not just a pretty image.

Steps Towards Goal Setting – Understanding the Needs of Stakeholders

Your goals and those of your visitors are not likely to be exactly the same. While a site visitor could be looking for specific information, for example, you would be hoping to somehow convert that website visit into a sale or get a user to download something specific.

The art of goal driven Web Design lies in finding the middle ground between these two interests – your visitor is more likely to perform an action if it simultaneously meets their own needs.

Many designers make use of personas to gain insight into their target audience – working from a profile for a particular site visitor can help you understand their motivations, which in turn helps to focus on their needs when visiting your site. Personas can be built through user research like analytics keywords or by interviewing your sales staff – the ones who are dealing most directly with your customers.

You can also, based on a persona, set up hypothetical navigation through a website. Consider, for example, Mandy, who is 29 and has three kids. Why is she coming to your website and what would the ideal navigation path be for her to reach her goals, considering that she’s juggling a number of interests and is pressed for time? It’s important here to focus on her motivations and avoid relying on stereotype. 

Your website should not only serve your clients, the people in your organisation also stand to benefit significantly from a website that is built to meet their needs – whether this be as a site to aid sales staff in sharing the correct information with potential clients or a way to record leads directly to a database.

It’s therefore worth asking yourself and those in your organisation the right questions, below just a few examples:

  • Who is my target audience and who is my target market, is there a difference?
  • Why are they coming to my site?
  • What does my visitor hope to achieve from their website visit?
  • What action do I want my visitor to take when visiting my website? Is there a hierarchy of actions that they could take?
  • What results do I expect from my website that would mean its implementation is a success?
  • Do my site visitors face any accessibility challenges (like bandwidth or motor function limitations)?
  • How can my brand ID be expressed through my website?
  • What is/are my key message/s to convey?

Refining Goals

Once you have a clear idea of your goals, you can discuss them with your designer and Web developer. While it’s important to understand that goals and the way in which they are met should constantly be tested and refined, a starting point that is understood and agreed upon by all parties can streamline the entire process.
The entire team should understand the strategic goals, both in their minds and as laid out in a creative brief.

Applying Strategic Design Elements

Based on realistic and specific goals, all the elements of a website can be used to drive the user to that end point. If the goal of your site is to make an online sale, designers can be sure to make call to actions bold and prominent on the site. The call centre number can be prominently displayed and the site copy should be geared to lead a visitor to a particular goal.

There is additional functionality that can be set up as well. If a user registers with your site, but orders nothing (for example) you could launch a retention email campaign. After a willing sign up, you could send a site visitor discreet reminders of benefits from time to time and promote incentives.

The Role of Conversion Optimisation

Conversion Optimisation works on the principle that it should be as easy as possible for your website visitors to achieve your and their goals. Once your site is live, testing (A/B split tests, for example), can look at the difference in response for different colours, button sizes and navigation positioning. Elements this small can play a great role in determining how long a visitor stays on a website or which actions they take.

Ultimately, you will have a limited amount of time and space in which to grab your visitor’s attention – knowing how best to use that space depends on clearly understanding what you want to achieve with it. Proper goal setting, in line with an understanding both of your needs and of the medium, and the testing and refining of the processes through which you hope to achieve those goals is the best way to achieve results.

Find out more about our marketing focused Web Design services by contacting us today.