Evaluate Website Effectiveness

Jesse Hopps

Websites have become the de-facto standard for communicating externally to customers, prospects, investors, potential employees, partners, and other key stakeholders.

Surprisingly, since the boom of web activity in the dot.com era, many organizations have failed to maintain an effective website. As the executive responsible for managing website programs, it is your responsibility to drive this online channel forward and create a competitive advantage in online presence.

Perform a brief analysis of the strengths & weaknesses of your own website, and your top 2 competitors, to determine who is leading the charge in this areas of marketing. If you are being outshined, build the business case for a website upgrade, or at least, improve your current capabilities and web effectiveness.

What Makes a Website Effective?

The following section will describe 6 key areas that drive effectiveness, to help you understand what makes a solid website. Understand these criteria before doing an evaluation.

  1. Clear Communication
    • Users immediately know who you are/what you do
    • The website objective (provide info, support) is clear
    • Target market is clearly defined and catered to
    • There is a simple call-to-action (register for webcast)
    • No irrelevant content or sections are present
    • Right amount of info provided. Not too much/too little
  2. Brand Consistency & Aesthetic Appeal
    • Pages follow consistent layout, color scheme, style
    • Key marketing messages a clearly laid out
    • No spelling mistakes or poor grammar
    • Online branding is consistent with offline collateral
    • Website reflects your expertise accurately
    • Visually appealing and .nice-on-the-eyes.
    • Clean, professional, and follows good design principles
  3. User-Friendliness & Easy Navigation
    • Users can quickly navigate to each section
    • Critical information available within 3 clicks of homepage
    • Forms are automatically populated for return visitors
    • There are clear navigation .paths. to key sections
    • All links are active. No broken links or display errors
  4. Search Engine Optimization & Structure
    • Website has been submitted & indexed by Google
    • Meta-tags, keywords, page titles are in code
    • Headers are text-based, not graphic-based
    • There is a sitemap that links to all pages directly
    • All pages have incoming/outgoing links
  5. Content, Forms, & Contact Information
    • “Resources” section provides whitepapers & data sheets
    • Webcasts or other value-added content is available
    • Forms capture web leads by gathering contact info
    • Forms are not too cumbersome or ask for too much info
    • All departments have contact information listed
    • Content added regularly to increase visitor return rate
  6. Transaction Capabilities & Analytics
    • New visitors can make purchases without calling you
    • Shopping cart is seamless, easy-to-use, and secure
    • Analytics tell you who is on site, what their viewed
    • Reporting provides web-traffic stats such as page views
    • You can determine where your visitors came from

Evaluating your Strengths & Weaknesses

Use Demand Metric’s Competitive Website Analysis Tool to quickly evaluate your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This exercise will only take about 15 minutes and will provide a benchmark to demonstrate future improvements.

To build momentum for a web program initiative, distribute this tool to other stakeholders in your business to obtain their perspective on your current level of effectiveness. Once you have gathered the results, hold a meeting to discuss findings.

Compare your Website with Competitors

“Who has the competitive advantage for web effectiveness?”

Using the ‘Competitor 1’ and ‘Competitor 2’ tabs in the Competitive Website Analysis Tool, you can conduct an apples-to-apples comparison of how your website stacks up to the competition.

If achieving budget approval for a website redesign is going to be a chore, use the results of this analysis to build a Business Case for improving website effectiveness. Your focus should be on how this program will drive a competitive advantage for online communications, branding, lead generation, and public relations.

Develop a Website Program Action Plan

Based on the results of your competitive web analysis, develop a website program action plan to make your recommendations. Provide options for the program, including:

  • Do Nothing
  • Upgrade Existing Website
  • Conduct Complete Overhaul

Demand Metric has produced a tactical Best Practices Report on redesigning your corporate website which has the tools, best practices, and actionable advice to kick-start your project. You can also generate ideas with the following Research Notes:

  • Simplifying Search Engine Optimization
  • Estimating Website Design Costs
  • Free Web Analytics from Google
  • Pull Prospects with Google AdWords
  • Governing your Corporate Website
  • Successful Blogs Improve Customer Satisfaction

In this day and age, websites are the primary communication vehicle for mid-sized organizations. Strikingly, most websites do not convey the professionalism, expertise, culture, or competitive advantages boasted by their organization.

Conduct a very quick website effectiveness evaluation to determine if you could generate more leads and improve your corporate image by updating, upgrading, or re-tooling your current website. Market leaders, growing start-ups, and steady producers, all need to communicate clearly with customers, prospects, investors, potential employees, and other key stakeholders. Take ownership and evaluate your effectiveness.