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The Website Redesign: Getting Better Results the Second Time Around (Part 2)

This is the second of three articles that will cover nearly every aspect of how to prepare for and redesign your website from a business perspective. The first and third installments are also available.

Determine Your Objectives

Philip Dormer Chesterfield once wrote:

"Firmness of purpose is one of the most necessary sinews of character, and one of the best instruments of success. Without it genius wastes its efforts in a maze of inconsistencies."
At the risk of sounding dramatic, the same idea holds true for the website representing your business. Purpose, or objective is the key element of any good plan. Without objectives being clearly defined, your site will never produce tangible results for your business.

Determining various objectives of your website is all about what business challenges you want to solve.

Examples of Website Objectives Include:

These are only a few examples. In some cases, you may determine that more than one objective is appropriate. Next, you need to determine what, if anything, on your website has been working well.

What’s Hot and what’s Not

In an earlier post, I said that you have the advantage of hindsight--knowing who has visited your site in the past. Virtually every site keeps track of its visitors, which pages were viewed, how many times each was looked at, some geographic data about the visitors themselves and a few details about the person's browser and operating system. All this data is kept in a Web server log file which can be downloaded and fed into reporting software.

You can obtain one of these reports, often referred to as web metrics, from the person responsible for managing your website. Many of my colleagues use WebTrends Log Analyzer software from NetIQ which produces beautifully formatted and highly informative reports.

Information is Power

So how can you capitalize on this data? First, a good web metrics report can offer a wealth of valuable information that can be used to decide which content should be incorporated into the new website.

A typical report might include the following information:

Include the Most Popular Pages...

Second, you can use the report to decide which pages you want to keep and which ones to get rid of. Naturally, you want to include the most popular pages and exclude or revise pages that weren’t so popular. And finally, knowing whether or not most people used Internet Explorer or Netscape software can help you decide what kind of bells and whistles to provide. In any case, it is the needs of your customers that ultimately dictates what you publish.

What's Next?

The next installment in this three part series will cover how to plan, collect and organize your content and put it all together (Website Redesign Part 3.)

Copyright ©2005, Jeff Nolan & Nolan Interactive, Ltd. All rights reserved. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 License.