What is a Website For?


It may seem like a ridiculous question, to ask what a website is for. Websites can serve many different purposes – from attracting readers to news articles, to selling products, to fundraising, and more.

But if I were to ask you, “what is your company’s website for”, could you answer? How much hedging would you have to do?

The problem with websites is that they often serve many masters. Marketing wants to streamline and optimize for sales. Creative wants control over the look and feel. Compliance teams want to fill it with legal disclaimers. And the CEO wants his face on the homepage.

What is your website for? The question should have an easy answer. But depending on who I ask, I might get a different answer.

If you are in marketing, you might give me a different answer than your customer service team, or your IT team. And that’s the problem.

To maximize the performance of any website, you need to know what you are maximizing for. Is it sales? Revenue? Donations? Visits? Page depth? Clicks? Calls?

When I ask, what is your website for, the answer should roll off the tongue. It should be quick and easy.

“Our website is for people to purchase books online.”

Okay, great. Now I know what we are solving for. And now I can suggest changes and run tests aimed at selling more books. Because I know that at the end of the day, success is measured by book sales.

It is sound advice for any company to agree first on what your website is for, then work to try to improve performance. Because if you are trying to improve performance before you all agree on what the goal is, you will end up in a lot of uncomfortable conversations.

Understand Why You’re Changing Your Website

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Changing your website is a good thing. Generally speaking, you will be rewarded for making regular updates/improvements to your company’s website. Google likes a site where content is regularly updated, and will favor you for it.

That said, there needs to be a reason for your changes. Changing your website for the sake of changing it – because you’re tired of the way it looks or you have nothing better to do – is not a smart strategy.

Getting to the Why

The “why” will help you determine the “how”. The “why” is/are the underlying goal(s) you set for your redesign.

For example, you may be updating your website in order to convert more visitors into customers. Your “why” is conversion rate optimization.

Some other why’s include…

  • Modernizing the brand
  • Improving website navigation
  • Improving SEO
  • Adding products/services
  • Rebranding
  • Appealing to a new target audience

Once you understand why you are changing your website, you can more easily communicate with the team making the changes. The designers and the developers will be able to see the larger picture, grasping the end goal before they start to work.

Without the “why”, you don’t have a strategy.

New Series – Simple Website Fixes

All too often articles and blog posts in the marketing realm discuss big ideas and projects that can help you grow your business. But even small changes, executed well, can have a big impact. And in the digital world, that fact is doubly true.

There are an endless number of simple changes that can be made to any company’s website in order to improve performance. A website is never perfect, after all. We test and tweak over time and measure results, keeping what works and getting rid of what doesn’t.

Companies spend all kinds of money on consultants and other services aimed at redesigning or optimizing a website. But for the most part, you can do it all yourself. You just need to know where to start.

That’s what our new weekly series is here to help with. Each week, we will introduce a new “Simple Website Fix” and explain why it can help improve the performance of your website. Maybe not every tip will apply to every website. Maybe not every fix will outperform what you have today. But my goal is that enough of them have the desired impact to make it worth your while to keep reading.

We’ll be back Monday, March 13th with our first edition, and then every Monday thereafter.