Heading to the beach

It’s August now, the kids are off to summer camp, and business has slowed down a little. Phew! I’m taking this opportunity to do some navel-gazing – specifically, to analyze my website.

Over the past 12 months, writing website copy has taken over a big chunk of my business, and I’d like my website to reflect that. I expect that I’ll end up rewriting large portions of my home page and possibly reorganizing the content on the interior pages. Before I can begin, however, I’ve got some thinking and strategizing to do.

Below are the targeted questions I’ll be asking myself throughout this process. They’re tough questions, and several will take quite a bit of thought and even research. Still, I know that putting the time in now to make my website the best it can be will pay off with lots of revenue in the future.

Is it time for you to ask these questions of your website?

 

Why do I need my website?

I may have several answers to this question, ranging from the simple (to convey basic information about what I do) to the complex (to establish myself as a thought leader in my industry).

 

Who is my target audience?

It’s tempting to give easy, obvious answers (local mid-sized businesses). But I’ll do better to consider this more deeply. Specifically, am I writing for a CEO, a VP of Marketing, or perhaps an IT director? Each of these people will need different information (see the next question), so it behooves me to identify as many individuals as possible.

What is my visitor’s goal for coming to my website?

If I’ve given the best answer possible for #2 above, then this question will entail a complex answer. Don’t skimp here. A CEO and an IT director, for example, will each want to look at very different information, and I’d better make sure my website satisfies both of them.

What content can I provide to help my visitor achieve that goal?

I’ll consider the types of questions I normally get during my sales cycle, and I’ll make sure my website answers as many of those questions as possible. I’ll also take a look at trade publications, industry blogs and even the competition to get a good bead on my prospect’s hot buttons.

How can I make it easy for my visitor to find that content?

I arrange my content ideas from the previous question into logical groups that will become the items on my website’s menu. I used to put each idea on a post-it, and then arrange the post-its into groups on a white board or bare wall. These days, I like the free mind mapping software, Free Mind, which makes it very easy to create flow charts and keep information organized.

How can I move my visitor throughout my website?

I want to encourage the visitor to move as deeply within my site as possible. I might include links within pages to other relevant topics and pages on my site. Or I might break a big topic up into smaller pages, and at the end of each page direct the visitor to the next page. Either way, I always want to tell the visitor where to go next.

After I’ve detailed my goals and outlined my strategy, I can start creating or repurposing my content. As a writer, of course this is my favorite part. For the non-writers out there, feel free to contact me to talk more about analyzing the content on your website!