One hour or so into the meeting, discussing possible steps and methodologies to follow for a make-over of the company website, and someone says: “Maybe a stupid question, but does anyone know why we want a new website?”
Taken out of its context, this may suggest absolute ridicule. And in some situations it might be. But in the meeting this morning, it wasn’t sad nor laughable. It came at a right time. The discussion about top task management, wireframes, clients vs. prospects, effective yet not intruding online marketing and a new content management system was intelligent and focused. The question stressed the need to remain intelligent and focused.
The question is not stupid at all. Too many website make-overs are being decided without a real business case. Too many are being decided because someone in the organization thinks that after three years the website looks out of date. Or because someone thinks that an extra portion technology or content or design will bring the organisation in a higher orbit.
There can only be one good reason to plan a new website: to serve the customer better. There are many goals to a website: more sales, better image of the organization, better access to the documents repository, what have you. However, any goal you can imagine will only be achieved if the website visitor can do what he came to the website for. The web is self-service and the customer wants to perform his task of the moment efficiently.
Knowing what you want a new website for is essential. Knowing which part on the website you want to turn into a better customer task experience is essential. Because if you don’t, please transfer the budget into my bank account. Whatever I do with it, it will be spent better.
More people should interrupt website planning meetings with the question “Anyone knows why we want a new website?”