Figuring Out the Purpose of Your Website

In ten years of designing websites for different clients, I’ve come to realize that the biggest decider in the success or failure of a web based business (or using a website for a traditional business), is found in a potential client’s answer to the simple question, “What do you expect this website to do for you?”.

That question  is one I pose to nearly all of my potential web design clients, mostly because I view it as the most crucial piece to the puzzle, more important than any other component of their website. This question is the one question that must be answered long before you attempt to start your website.

The purpose of your website must be decided b4 you attempt to start a website. Click To Tweet

So, let’s talk about what is the purpose of your website for a moment. We’ll start by covering what a website is not.


What a Website is Not

A website is not a classified ad or an ad in the yellow pages. This may seem a bit obvious, but when it comes to working with web design clients, I’ve come to realize that many traditional business owners aren’t really sure what they should do with their website. So, what do they do? They put the same information on their website as they put on their flyers, ads, or yellow pages listings.

A website is not a classified ad or an ad in the yellow pages. Click To Tweet

Yawn. Very few people will stay on your website long enough to decide to hire you or buy from you, if they even find your website at all, unless they really, really need you.

A website is not an infomercial. A website is not a flyer. A website is not a business card.

Customers may come to your website looking for all of that information, but they usually also want to know more about you and your business.

What is a website?

A website is something altogether different from traditional marketing tools. For one thing, a website itself needs to be marketed, so that others will find it. After all, who is going to find your website unless you tell them where to look for it?

Who is going to find your website unless you tell them where to look for it? Click To Tweet

“Well,” you say, “I figure they’ll just search for a widget company and they’ll find mine, and presto, I’ll have a new customer and a sale.”

Search Engine Optimization: Getting Seen by Google

That’s a great idea, but how will they find you in the search engines? As the internet continues to grow every day, high ranking in search engines becomes more and more competitive. Too many clients of mine have an illusion in their head that they will build a website, and and suddenly every web search on their topic will direct a new visitor their way. The problem is, they don’t realize how many thousands if not millions of websites on each topic there are.

Carefully crafting and honing your website’s content so that you will rank higher on the internet search engines like Google is a complex topic referred to as SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. You can find more information about SEO on this website, in fact, if you use my search box. This article on SEO is a good place to start.

Most web design clients are more than a little disappointed when I let them in on the scary secret: they are actually going to have to do something with their website beyond paying a designer to create and upload it if they want to find themselves on the first few pages of any Google search.

Success = you must do something with a website beyond paying a designer to create it Click To Tweet

Driving traffic to your website, especially when launching a new website, is a very hands on activity. I’m sorry to say, if you are not someone who is comfortable interacting online or using a computer, you should either hire someone for your internet marketing or find someone in your business or organization that will help you promote your website online  by creating meaningful content to get the attention of search engines, marketing on social media, and otherwise getting the word out.

Websites and Interaction

One of my favorite books on marketing is “The New Rules of Marketing & PR”, which is readily available in most libraries and in different formats. It’s such a good one, I strongly urge you to buy a copy. No, really. You need it.

The most important bit of advice I gleaned from his book (and there was so much it’s hard to narrow it down), was the importance, in this day and age, for companies to interact with their customers, clients, and potential customers and clients. The days of static websites are long gone. Now, with website platforms such as WordPress making it super easy for the non-techie to add content to a website, there is really no excuse for not keeping a website up to date, and hearing back from your customers and clients. Social media like Facebook and Twitter allow additional avenues of feedback and interaction. You and I both need to stop TALKING AT our customers and clients and start Listening and then TALKING WITH our customers and clients. The best place to start is website content. I explain a bit more in this post here about listening to my clients.

The Tip of the Iceberg

This small bit is just a tip of the iceberg, to get the wheels turning in regards to the purpose of your website.

The Next Step: Think it Through

Take some time to sit down and really think through what your expectations for your website are. Specifically, see if you can answer these questions:

  • How do I want this website to benefit my business?
  • How is this website going to benefit my customers?
  • What content can I provide that will demonstrate my expertise in this field?
  • What kind of value can I provide to my potential customers and website visitors?
  • Why would anyone come to my website, unless they are my mother/father/family member/significant other?

Once you’ve answered those questions, you’re off to a great start.