In the previous section, we discussed the basic principles and rules of the definition of the website’s primary objective. Having defined on their basis our website’s primary objective, let’s proceed to the identification of secondary objectives of the future project.
To get started, we need to define the means provided by a website as a tool. It can be roughly divided into two parts – informational and functional. In practice, this separation is not always single out one of the parts in its pure form, since the functional part often contains elements of informational being supplemented with.
Website informational means
What possible informational means could provide the presence of a site to your company business?
“Information about the company”, “Information about products and services” – the hackneyed truth that bores us all along with clichés like «this is your office 24 / 7 online». This part is, nevertheless, worthy of consideration, since, being formally known, in practice is used very inefficiently. “About Us” page containing 2-3 paragraph description – this is far from full utilization of informational means of your website.
«Provision of information about the company» – as a means should be interested in the answer to the question «What kind of Information?». One of the most effective methods to get the answer to this question is to analyze the information, provided by your staff on a daily and weekly basis to the company contractors, potential, and existing customers. An abstract wording «analysis» hides a simple action – make a list of materials, letters, price lists and other information is regularly sent to the outside world. Just ask this question your company secretaries and managers communicating with clients who will share their pain of all the routine that they have to deal with days and days long. For more accurate results – you can use an easy trick – let each employee, «hanging» on the phone and engaged in forwarding the information a blank sheet with a task to record during one week all questions answered by phone, documents were sent. In a week, you’ll have a list of what «provision of information» constitutes. Pay attention to regularly recurring actions – this is the time spent inefficiently. If the common prospective client request needs to spend your staffs time providing the same information, sending the same documents (basic contracts forms, specifications for products, etc.), if during the day time is spent for the same price lists and specifications sent – it’s a time wasted. It’s not just routine operations that take time, and therefore – money – it also has a negative impact on employees doing their boring job, so – tired of it twice and lose interest in the work.
So by making a list of routine information, requests and documents provided by your company on a regular basis – you can get an answer to the question referred to earlier – «What kind of information?» – in the form of the exact list. It can and should be used further as an information «popularity rate». Its purpose will be described further.
Within a list of standard documents, questions, and requests, you actually got a plenty of secondary objectives of your company website – reducing staff time on routine operations by providing this information on the site. This is also true in the case of updates, even regular – it is enough to update the file on the site so it became available, or – if your contractors use to receive it by e-mail – update your mailing list, that will send it to all recipients.
Your previously made list of «popular» materials allows forming its structure, defining the sections. Without digging in it now, it should be noted that this list can help determine the structure or thematic blocks on the site, as well as in the understanding of the target audience – the site visitors’ objectives. However – it will be examined later.
Website functional means / tools
Let’s proceed to the second part – a functional means of a site and determine the meaning of it.
Communication with a customer, if listened only to your staff part, may sound something like this:
– Are you an individual or a company?
– For up to one month or up to six months?
– Please give your phone number or e-mail…
– What is the name of your company?
– Will you, please, repeat?
– And contact person name?
– Is that real name?! (Covering the headset’s microphone – “I’d better kill myself!”)
– And e-mail?
– What is the letter after «at»? G or J? Will you spell it, please, once again?
Being an outside observer of that kind of communication – it goes well for a comedy that would be funny if it did not hide the other part – the time loss. How often names, phone numbers, company names are written incorrectly. We all use to indulge the incorrect spelling or pronunciation of the names and incorrectly noted e-mail is an opportunity for counter-call with a message like «We’ve sent, but in returned back with error…». It isn’t something special, but incorrectly recorded information, such as labeling or size – can result in more than clumsiness, but a problem.
How it relates to the features of our website? The online forms on the website give the ability to get the necessary information from the site visitor in a much more effective way than that kind of “phone comedy” that has to be paid each month in the form of your employees’ salary. You can hear the opinion that «site forms are featureless, it repels and frustrates visitors, it has no purpose…» – statements that sound like «You could not swim in May – the sea is cold». Well, choose a different sea … with the help of your site developer – make these forms convenient for your site visitors. The useful forms and interactive site elements are effective not only for you in obtaining full-structured and correct data – they are convenient for visitors. The correct and user-in-mind form – is an assistant to the person filling it. Has it ever happened with you that a question of «telephone questionnaire» made you think about, and the conversation was delayed or postponed? You were not ready for some question, did not suspect to be asked about something, and you needed time for a decision, or just wasn’t able to provide the necessary information. Alternatively, it was followed by the question “What can you offer?” that turns the conversation into a long listing of options and their differences.
Filling in a well-composed forms, visitor don’t need to be in a hurry, has time to answer every question of the form, he (it is very important!) has references to background information in the form of a brief footnote, or as a link to detailed description page, where he can get all the necessary information to help in making choices. And this is the case in which the informational means of the site combines with functional and are the part of.
As a result – the visitor does not feel like dummy left one-on-one with all that frustrating fields when it is not clear what should be filled in it, but rather makes his choice with the help of tips and additional information. Just try to imagine how much time can be saved and used more productively? Perhaps, for a time of a phone call needed for a sales manager to find out what kind of information about a product or service requires the customer and ask every-call questions – he could compose and send a couple of offers in response to requests received via the form on the site? We’ll let alone the fact that to answer questions and communicate by phone with more than one client at the same time is hardly possible.
In conclusion, the answer to another common misconception – «In order to communicate with the client, we necessarily need a personal contact». If you are a dental clinic, sure, – you need a personal contact, however, it does not mean that you are prohibited to place an appointment form on your site, where visitors can enter their data and the desired date and time, seeing the day and time available. If you are not able to maintain information about the free hours at the site – this is not a problem – the date and time, can be verified by a phone call to your reception, but it still saves time on the notation of name, phone, desired date and time etc.
Thus, we now defined your website secondary objectives, including a list of data to be published on the site, and basic forms (as long as a list of common questions and fields).