Over coffee the other day, a well-respected marketing manager asked for my candid opinion of her company's Web site. She knew I had visited and was fishing for advice. She's considering improvements.
Funny thing is, I'm asked this question all the time. Almost as often as "How much will a new Web site cost?"
Anyway, I explained my opinion would be just that - an opinion. I told her it looked ok and seemed easy to use, but there are much better ways to tell if a Web site needs improvements.
I told her my definition of a good Web site is one that constantly exceeds its targets and expectations. If a Web site has no objectives or expectations, then the interpretation of "good" is opinion. Unfortunately for those accountable for Web budgets and ROI, that opinion is almost always based on visual appeal.
Let's take a look at 7 metrics to prove a Web site needs improvement:
- Poor home page click-through rate
When a home page doesn't do its job, the entire Web site suffers. Most Web sites today, lose 80% of its entering traffic at the home page. For help with this metric, read how to calculate home page effectiveness.
- Poor home page load time
When a home page loads slowly, visitors leave. It's really that simple. Poor home page load time also affects its click-through rate.
- Lack of perceived value at first impression
If a home page doesn't quickly connect with a visitor and scream, "Get in here and continue reading because we can make your job or life easier," they leave. The best way to make this connection is to research your target market, brush up on consumer psychology and study your competition. Lack of perceived value also affects the home page's click-through rate.
- Low traffic volume inside "bread-winning" areas
Imagine the retail storeowner's disappointment when she learns customers only use the bathroom. Wouldn't that be a problem? A Web site must pull the majority of its visitors through to its "bread winning" pages. These pages can represent product descriptions, portfolios, before-and-after, service offerings, employment opportunities, or other important areas. To track this ratio, simply compare total visitors against the number who visit these pages.
- Inadequate time spent per visitor session
Imagine the tradeshow booth owner's frustration when she learns thousands of people glance, but don't stop. Wouldn't that be a problem? A Web site must hold a visitor's interest for more than a few seconds. This standalone metric can be found in most Web site log file statistic reports.
- Low page view per visitor ratio
Similar to the time a visitor spends, this metric helps identify a stale or ineffective Web site. To track this ratio, compare the total pages viewed (minus refreshes) against total Web site visitors.
- Low "desired task" to traffic ratios
This metric is self-explanatory. If 1,000 visitors entered your Web site, how many clicked beyond your home page, visited your "bread-winning" pages, phoned an inquiry, subscribed or registered, submitted data, completed a form, downloaded a sample, purchased an item or accomplished an equally beneficial task? To track this ratio, compare the total of each completed task against the total Web site visitors.
Regularly tracking these seven metrics will help you decide if improvements are necessary. As we all know, securing "executive buy-in" is your next challenge. Make it easy on them and build a compelling business case for the budget.