How To Find the Purpose of Your Website

Before you begin the process of planning or creating your business’s website, you must identify and clarify its purpose. The overall purpose of a website can vary from business to business. Some businesses might have one or two primary goals for their websites while others may have several objectives in mind.

The best way to get started is to determine if your website will support your business or if it is your business. If you own a restaurant or plumbing company, then your website will support your business. But, your website is your business if you run an ecommerce store. Knowing this information ahead of time will help you clarify the purpose of your website, craft its goals, and choose the best technology to build your site.


Why Website Goals Are Important

As you begin to create a website for your business, you probably have some idea of how you’d like it to appear and what you’d like it to accomplish. But, taking time to write clear goals for your website is an essential part of the development process. These goals will help you not only decide how you want to build your website and what you want it to look like, but also how you’ll measure its success.

Your website goals most likely will differ from your users’ goals. You’ll probably want to focus on increasing sales or building brand awareness. Your site visitors, on the other hand, likely will come looking for a specific answer to a question or need. You must, therefore, find a middle ground between the two so your site can successfully achieve the goals of both parties.

Having a strong goal — or a strong set of goals — will make creating your website much easier. As you set your website’s goals, you can:

  • Find Your Target Audience: While creating your website’s goals, you’ll learn more about your target audience and their needs. These insights will help you design your website to meet those specific needs.

    For example, consider a fast-food restaurant that wants to promote its new breakfast menu. Its target audience might include busy professionals on their way to work, stay-at-home parents who just dropped their kids off at school, or third-shift employees grabbing a bite to eat on their way home. In all these instances, visitors would mostly likely use a mobile device to access the business’s website. The web designer would make sure they design a mobile-friendly site that makes their breakfast menu easy to access.
  • Determine How Best To Structure Your Site: Crafting clear-cut goals for your website will enable you to organize your website’s main pages and subpages in a logical fashion. Your site’s goals will help you prioritize what’s most important and ensure you design those elements to achieve maximum effectiveness.

    If your goal involves enticing people to sign up for your monthly newsletter, for example, you’ll want to make the sign-up form easy to access and ensure it includes a compelling call to action (CTA).
  • Create Engaging Website Content: Understanding your website’s purpose also will help you create effective content. During the goal-creation process, you’ll learn about your target audience and you’ll create visitor personas. Modeled after potential visitors to your site, these personas will inform the content-creation process. You’ll then create content (e.g., for specific pages, blog posts, and product descriptions) to meet the needs of potential visitors.

    If a fast-food restaurant wants to promote its new breakfast menu to third-shift employees coming home from work, for example, it should ensure it offers a mobile-friendly website with content that includes the specific time(s) that menu is available. Its content also should feature messaging that taps into the feeling of enjoying a meal after a hard day of work.
  • Discover How To Measure Your Site’s Success: Finally, having clear-cut goals for your website will help you measure its overall effectiveness. Throughout the goal-writing process, you’ll develop key metrics to measure the effectiveness of your goals and you’ll identify specific times to assess your success.

    If one of your site goals involves increasing the number of people who sign up for your company’s newsletter by 25 percent in 2021, for example, you can easily determine if you succeeded.

Common Goals of Websites

Depending on the type of website you have (e.g., professional, interactive, ecommerce, lead-generation, affiliate), you’ll craft goals to meet your business’s needs. But, the majority of sites share several types of common goals. Your business’s website may have one (or more) of the following goals:

Discoverability

Helping people find their business online is one of the most common goals business owners set for their websites. Simply put, businesses need online visitors in order to achieve their other site goals.

HubSpot provides a great example of a website accomplishing this goal. This company does an excellent job of using search engine optimization (SEO) to drive traffic to its site. This means its site often appears on the first page of Google’s search engine results pages (SERP) for a variety of sales- and marketing-related topics.

Just as HubSpot makes its site more discoverable to marketers, a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) company may want to help local community members learn about the services it offers.

Increased Brand Recognition

Another common website goal involves increasing brand awareness, which can help the general public better understand a business’s purpose. To successfully build brand awareness, you must educate potential customers on what your business does, the services or products it offers, and what sets your company apart from the competition.

Many different businesses can benefit from making brand recognition a goal for their websites. In particular, new businesses, or businesses facing stiff competition within their industry, would benefit from choosing brand awareness as a goal.

Nike offers a great example of a company accomplishing this goal. Already well-known worldwide, Nike ensures that every part of its website reinforces its brand and current tagline. From the Nike swoosh logo to its tagline, “Where All Athletes Belong,” Nike makes sure visitors have a memorable experience on its site.

Brand recognition is important for smaller businesses, too. If you plan to build a travel blog, for example, it’s just as important to ensure each page of your website reflects your brand and makes a lasting impact on visitors. You can achieve this through your site’s logo, tagline, color palette, writing style, and visual elements.

Customer Acquisition

Many business websites focus on customer acquisition and retention. This goal involves not only attracting new customers, but also doing what’s necessary to retain existing customers and replacing any you may have lost. While sales deliver short-term gains, customer acquisition focuses on the long game.

A wide variety of businesses can choose customer acquisition as a goal — from startups to local auto mechanic businesses. If you want to attract and retain more customers, you should consider choosing customer acquisition as a goal.

Procter & Gamble (P&G) is a great example of a business with a sharp focus on customer retention. This manufacturing company’s website focuses on showing potential and current customers what it values. The company includes a number of links on its site to showcase its brand and position it as an organization that truly cares about its customers and the planet. Specifically, these links:

  • Showcase the company’s wide range of products;
  • Demonstrate that safety is a top priority;
  • Highlight its commitment to equality;
  • Provide information about its efforts to reduce waste;
  • Showcase its philanthropic efforts; and
  • Describe P&G’s participation in disaster response programs.

P&G specifically designed its website to show customers why they should choose (or continue choosing) its products.

Small businesses also need to focus on customer acquisition. If you run a local restaurant and offer special discounts to the early dinner crowd, you should prominently display that information on your website. You also need to show visitors why they should choose your restaurant over another.

Product Sales

This goal focuses solely on selling products and increasing sales. While boosting sales is a common ecommerce website goal, it also may be one of the goals of banking, insurance, and marketing companies. When driving sales represents the primary purpose of a website, every aspect of the site should focus on moving the customer through the sales funnel (i.e., bringing them closer to purchasing a product or service).

Amazon and Etsy do an excellent job of keeping sales goals at the forefront of their websites. Both companies designed their sites to help users find what they want quickly, understand the terms and conditions of their purchase, and simplify the purchase process.

Both large and small ecommerce companies can benefit from making product sales one of their website’s goals. From artists who sell their prints online to entrepreneurs who run their own 3D printing companies, sales are essential for success.

Building Trust

Almost all businesses must establish trust with their current and potential customers. Businesses that provide services (e.g., plumbing, HVAC, painting, legal counsel, and tax preparation) also need to show customers that they’re authority figures within their industry. Customers won’t choose to work with businesses they can’t trust.

Adobe skillfully uses its website to showcase its industry authority and build trust with potential and current customers. While browsing the Adobe homepage, visitors encounter clear messaging about the quality and acceptance of the company’s products as the industry standard. To further establish trust with potential customers, it offers free trials of its software and a robust knowledge base.

Establishing customer trust remains just as important for smaller businesses. If you want to create an effective website for your tax preparation business, it must prove that potential customers can trust you to file their personal and/or business taxes. You need to show your education, experience, and subject matter expertise.

Lead Generation

Finally, generating leads represents another popular website goal. In the past few decades, it’s become cheaper and easier than ever to generate leads for your business online. In marketing terms, lead generation is the process of piquing potential customers’ interest in a product or service.

For example, the LendingTree website excels at generating leads. Already used to compare mortgage rates, this website has a platform that makes it easy for visitors to sign up for an account, download the company’s app, and contact several mortgage brokers at once. Unsurprisingly, LendingTree is one of the most popular mortgage marketplaces available today.

Many smaller businesses also can benefit from making lead generation a goal for their websites. If you run a local or regional moving company, for example, you could potentially include a free quote tool on your website that also captures visitors’ phone numbers and/or email addresses. Then, you could use that information to follow up with those potential leads to try to finalize a sale.

Consider Your Customers' Goals

Other than utilizing SMART goals and properly conveying your website’s purpose, you must also consider your customers' goals as well. Think about why customers might visit your website, what their needs are, and be sure to address those on your site as well.

How To Write Goals for Your Website

When you begin to write your website’s goals, make sure they’re clear, actionable, and related to each other in some way. While you may have individual goals for each page of your site, they should all roll up under one (or a few) sitewide goals.

The best way to ensure you create good goals for your website involves following the “SMART” method. In this context, “SMART” stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based goals.

  • Specific: To create clear, specific goals, ask yourself: “What will I accomplish or what actions will I take?” Simply stating that you want to increase your email subscribers isn’t specific enough. A specific goal would state you want to increase your email subscribers by 50 percent in 2021.
  • Measurable: Without measurable goals, you can’t determine whether or not you achieved them. For example, a measurable website goal might involve selling 2,000 copies of your new book through your website in the first quarter of 2021.
  • Attainable: Website goals also must be attainable or you may give up on them before you make much progress. When you write your website’s goals, ask yourself if you have the skills, resources, and time needed to accomplish each goal. If you have a large goal in mind, consider breaking it down into smaller, more attainable goals.
  • Relevant: All of your website’s goals should help you achieve your business’s goals in some way. You may have specific goals for your website as a whole as well as separate goals for individual pages. But, all of them must support your business’s overall objectives.
  • Time-Based: Finally, you must set a timeframe or deadline for achieving each of your goals. This will help you track your progress. You may allocate weeks, months, or even years to meet individual goals, but you must have a deadline in sight. Here’s a time-based website goal example: Improve your website’s SERP click-through-rate (CTR) by 10 percent in the next 6 months.

Examples of Strong Website Goals and Objectives

Depending on your website’s purpose and what you want to accomplish with it, you may create vastly different goals than other businesses. Here are some examples of SMART website goals to provide some inspiration:

  • Improve your business’s SERP ranking by two positions by June 2021.
  • Increase your site’s monthly unique views by 10 percent in 2021.
  • Improve awareness of your [new product/service] by 65 percent in the first quarter of 2021. (Measure your success with a pre- and post-survey.)
  • Increase your website’s conversion rate by 7 percent in the first quarter of 2021.
  • Increase monthly sales of [sample product/service] by 10 percent in January 2021.
  • Increase the number of qualified leads by 30 percent in the first quarter of 2021.

Examples of Weak Website Goals

As you start creating goals for your website, remember to keep your site’s purpose top of mind: to support your business. You can do several things to improve your website, but they won’t necessarily help you meet your business goals.

Some weak goals might include increasing your site speed, creating a perfect design, obtaining a specific domain authority figure, or even achieving a specific score from a website analysis company. When developing your business website, focus on goals that will help your business grow.

How To Convey Your Website’s Purpose

After creating your website’s goals, you should keep them in mind as you develop your site. But, you also need to successfully convey your website’s purpose to your target audience. Your site must clearly communicate your intentions, include strong CTAs, and provide a simple, easy-to-navigate design.

Communicate Your Intent Clearly

No matter if your website supports your business or is your business, its purpose should be clear to every visitor. To ensure your site communicates your intentions clearly, it needs:

  • Clear Writing: All of your website’s text should support its purpose and goals. If you plan to build a website with a goal to establish trust in your law office, for example, your writing style likely should have a formal tone to help demonstrate your firm’s authority in the field.
  • Clear Design, Imagery, and Typography: You also must design your website in a way that supports its purpose and goals. If you want to build a website for an ecommerce business, for example, the fonts, images, and overall design must support the business’s sales goals.
  • Clear Functionality: In addition, your website should function in a way that supports its purpose and goals. If you plan to build a website for your construction company that’ll inform visitors about the services you offer, you should briefly list those services on the site’s home page and direct visitors to other pages that explain them in more detail.

Include Strong CTAs

Your website also must feature clear CTAs to encourage visitors to take specific actions. Effective CTAs usually tell people how to take that desired action as well. Some examples of CTAs include:

  • A “Buy Now” button next to individual products.
  • A hyperlink to a page with more information.
  • A sentence that not only encourages visitors to sign up for a newsletter, but also tells them how to do so.
  • Text that says, “Call Us” followed by a business’s phone number.

Provide a Simple Design

Your website’s design and overall structure should be simple and easy to follow. When people encounter confusing sites — or when they can’t find the information they need quickly — they often leave and look elsewhere. If you make your website’s navigation menu easy to use and your products or services easy to find, your visitors should readily understand your site’s purpose.

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