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Thinking About a New Site? How to Set Killer (and Realistic) Goals

Mark Knowles
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body-goalsThere are many steps in a “site migration.” If you’re not familiar with the term, a site migration is a project where a new site is being designed and built, and content assets from the old site are carried over. This often involves a change in technology as well – like moving to a new CMS.

The first step in a site migration is the wish list. The wish list for your new site manifests into goals – those things you want the new site to be able to accomplish.

But goal-setting can quickly go awry if you don’t have a framework for getting those goals on paper.

Let's go over a process for creating that wish list for the site and setting realistic goals that will get you what you need.

Before we dive in, here’s the overview of a process for creating wish lists and setting goals for a new website:

  1. Tell a story behind the idea or problem the current site or business is having, so everyone can relate to why the solution should be considered in the new website.
  2. Find measurable items within the goals for the news site that give a baseline, so you can track progress on the old site versus the new site.
  3. Take the time to understand everything that’s involved in a wish list item before you accept it or throw it out, so you can set realistic and attainable goals.

3 Steps to Setting Great Goals for Your New Site

A site migration project usually starts with an idea. You know you need to make something better on the site, make something bad stop happening or support your business in new ways through your online presence.

Often, the first step in a wish list and setting goals is to communicate the problem and proposed solution to a group of people (everyone who has a stake in the site within the company).

1. Tell a Story About the Requirement for the New Site

In order to communicate your needs here, ask:

  • Where are we currently?
  • What’s not working and why?

But tell a story.

No one else on the team can relate to the web developer’s normalized database structure with 92 tables that will interlink the distributor data, inventory and menu systems together to increase the efficiency by 87 percent.

On the other hand, the Project Leader can tell a story that resonates with others. For example, let’s say we have a client in the restaurant and food business that has a menu that changes daily. The Web developer could paint a picture:

“Currently, our client has to manually update their beer menu system by hand with chalk, and their website and Facebook tap pages, four to eight times per day. This is time consuming and interferes with their customer’s experience, both online and on premise. Our solution needs to let any employee update the menu, the website, and Facebook at the same time. The menu is the decision point for customers so, the presentation should be easy to read, pleasant to view, and have an image, name, description, and price for each tap handle. When we are done, customers at the counter and online will view the same information. This will be a valuable solution for them and save them money each month. How can we do this for them?”

See? Now we can relate to the project. The complications haven’t gone anywhere, but now the team can understand the problem before they dig into the details.

2. Be Clear About What You Want and Make Sure Its Measurable

Often, people will throw out generalizations about what the new website should do. But each proposed wish most definitely has a long list of complex tasks associated with it, and this all needs to be thought about before your team can even assess if the idea is worth turning into a goal for the new site.

Poor communication: “It needs to be better ... more robust.”

Unpack that idea with:

  • What does that mean exactly?
  • How are we going to measure that?
  • When we “arrive,” how will we know?

That last bullet point – that’s all about measurement. Vague, unmeasurable goals don’t help.

It’s possible the owner of the project hasn’t given this much thought yet. In order to measure how the new site will perform, we need to look at our current state of affairs for cues.

In the menu example we talked about, we could measure how much time our client puts into website, Facebook, and menu updates currently. Another baseline could be how many minutes per day those are not accurate because:

  • It takes so long to do each update, they just haven’t made time for it yet.
  • They are waiting for the person with the gifted handwriting to show up.

The minutes can be measured and we can compare today’s solution to tomorrow’s. If you look at your new website with measurable baselines, you can almost always find them. And the effort will pay off.

3. Be Sure the Goals for the Site Aren’t Too Adventurous

Everyone gets starry-eyed at the thought of a new site and what it can do. In the “wish list” phase, no rock should go unturned, no idea shot down. Everyone who has a stake in the site should be heard.

What comes next is refining those ideas (and hopefully Step 2 makes it obvious what will work). This is the job of the site migration manager – the owner of the project. This person needs to be able to assess each wish list item against many factors.

In the end, it’s hard to get buy-in around an unrealistic goal. The net effect is no one actually buys in.

You want to whittle that wish list down to attainable goals that have the most impact to the business or that are the most crucial for the new online presence. Remember to:

  • Take your time and think about what’s really important.
  • Eliminate unnecessary things. Be able to communicate why they weren’t chosen.
  • Stay laser focused on the things that will make or break the project itself (remember, this is a lot of work).

With a focus on what’s important and realistic objectives, you’ll find this upfront effort worth its weight in gold. This sets the team up to win and gives you a site that has solid purpose.

Conclusion

A site migration’s success hinges on upfront communication, group effort, and a project lead that has a critical eye for success. Without this first step in your site migration, the entire project is likely to be mismanaged, and you’ll end up wasting money and resources in your journey to a new site.


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