Does your website have a job description?

Show of virtual hands… Who here employs staff without a job description or ‘JD’?
Hopefully, not many of us. However we see many businesses that induct their number one employee without a clearly defined job description, let alone run them through an annual performance review.

Allow me to explain. We like to consider your website as your number one employee. It can service multiple clients simultaneously, is 100% consistent with its messaging, never has a ‘sickie’, works 24/7 and doesn’t get grumpy – ever.

Granted, the concept of giving your website a job description may seem like a silly idea. We will shed light on why this concept is vital to the success of your website. Regardless if you have an ecommerce money making machine or a ‘brochure’ style website, it should be equipped to best serve your business goals from day one. Of course these goals will change over time and so will your website if it is to continue supporting your business.

Why would your website need a JD?

Simply put, if there is no JD, then how do we know if your website is successful? What criteria are we measuring it against? And no, “it looks great” is not an acceptable answer.

Asking the below question awards you laser-like focus for your website’s strategy. Heath and I often pose this question to clients in the early planning stages: 

In 12 months time when we meet up to review the performance of your new website, how will we determine if we were successful or not successful?

You may draw blanks initially, and that’s totally fine. We often find that during the idea generation phase of a website project you can lose track of your primary goal… It can get super exciting when you consider the sea of possibilities a website provides. Any new ideas, concepts or decisions should be run through the filter of “Will this help or hinder the success of our website?” It becomes easy to make a decision with such a clear-cut question. 

What criteria will you use for your website's performance review?

This doesn’t have to be super complex, however it needs to be quite specific, measurable and all stakeholders must be in agreement. 

Here are some examples of well defined success criteria… In the next 12 months we want to:

  • Receive an average of 4 new enquiries per month with a minimum order value of $1,000.00 each.
  • Increase our average website visitors by 15% and increase our email database by 10% overall.
  • Publish 1 article every fortnight, which needs to be viewed by at least 500 website visitors. 

These will be unique to each business and ultimately will contribute to its overall goals. They must however have context. For instance, taking the last example of each article needing to be viewed by at least 500 website visitors. This business owner knows that an average of 500 views of an article typically leads to 4 new enquiries for them. Of these 4 enquiries, one is highly likely to become a billing customer. These goals have been created based on historical data and will help the business achieve their overall goals. 

How you can install this is in your business 

Step 1: Set the goal

Seems obvious, but you really should have this part locked and loaded before doing anything else. What does your number one employee (your website) need to do in order to contribute to the business.

I’m sure you have come across the SMART analogy when goal setting. I.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. If you use this as your compass when setting the goal, then arguably you are well on your way to achievement.

Step 2: Analyse. Everything.

Look at your website (if it exists) or your plans (if it’s a new build) and run all elements through the filter of your goal. What is moving you closer to success and what may be a distraction or obstacle to the website’s success?

Step 3: Measure

Don’t wait 12 months, sure an annual review is a great initiative, but, you will need to measure throughout the year at predetermined intervals. This enables you to course correct and make up for lost time when certain elements are not performing well. Some tools to utilise during this phase include:

  • Google Analytics for a ‘Big Brother’ view of what people are doing on your site
  • Customer customer surveys, what are they liking? What are they not liking? What do they feel is missing? This can be over the phone or my using a myriad of online survey tools such as Survey Monkey or Google Forms.
  • Accounting or financial management tools to measure an increase or decrease in sales. This depends on how your business manages its accounts, but could be as simple as a spreadsheet and regular meeting to discuss the sales.

Step 4: Tweak and refine

Once you have measured, tweak and refine as needed. Here’s our motto: If it’s working, do more of it. If it’s not working, stop, reflect and try again. Be ruthless with this. The online space moves at a rapid pace and is highly competitive. Those that success test, measure and repeat.

Step 5: Celebrate success

This process is perpetual and never ending. But, we can’t forget to celebrate the wins. Just like you would with any good employee who nails their performance review, you should celebrate. Get the team together, run through the highs and lows and re-energise them for the next 12 months. This is so important as a website is only as good as the minds behind the scenes.

So I’ll ask again… What’s your website’s job description?

Written by Chris Paradowski

Chris has a diverse background in business management. Having worked in highly competitive and process oriented industries, his ability to model, prototype and hypothesise is uncanny.

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