Monday, September 29, 2008

Todays fight will be site visits versus mission

Welcome to today's match.

Our reigning champion, weighing in at over a million clicks a month, our web site stats! Since the internet was born website stats has been a great contender and has led to countless web site redesigns and navigation shifts.

And in the other corner, weighing heavily in our hearts and dear to our souls, is our MISSION! Since the beginning of our nonprofit our mission was the champion and was all we talked about, well at least till the web and internet came along and our web site stats told us differently.

Our fight today will be a battle of past, present and future and will have our web site stats go blow to blow against our mission. We will look back and see who clicked on what, who visited which page and that will determine our winner. OK, so a quick review, the page that was visited the most was our free tshirt giveaway and our pages that explain how to sign up for our classes on the latest craze called Spin-Dance-Video-aerobics. So according to our rules, people only want to see the sales and the trends.

So based solely on this contest our winner is sales and hype! YAY, GO TEAM! Based on this we will do a redesign of our web site that will focus on these pages and themes. We are very excited about today's outcome, it should prove out to be a winning strategy for everyone!

Lets go to the stands for some audience reaction.

WHAT?>>?#>$%#@? are you serious? I can't believe my eyes and ears. What are these refs and judges looking at? Were they watching the same fight and did they ask me the viewer what I thought?

STOP THIS MADNESS! Now onto the real point and blog post from my own personal biased opinion.

I think too many times we use web site stats, polls, surveys, etc to determine the future of our web site. Yes all of those things are important and have to be tracked, measured and leveraged. But shouldnt we also spend some time making sure our web site is a reflection of who we are, what we are trying to do and gets people excited about our mission, regardless of the fact that our mission\about us page gets the fewest clicks?

In a recent post about YMCA web sites I suggested a bigger focus on mission for web sites. But I dont think I was clear enough. I didnt mean enhance the page called mission or add more pages about mission or only have mission content. Here is more directly what I mean.

Does every single page of your site accurately reflect your org and mission(including those focused on sales and transactions)?

Your homepage should give easy access to the pages that are the most used and accessed (and you should be keenly aware of what those pages are). But if your home page largest, flashing content focuses on a sale, then in my opinion that is also the central focus of your org. As a visitor I now know that your central reason for existing is to sell me something. You are a gym and swim period. You have nothing else to offer, so why on earth would I ever even visit the mission page, I already know it, selling stuff.

Do you provide people information that encourages them to want to learn more about who you are?

For example on a YMCA child care registration or informaiton page, do you brag about how the YMCA focuses on christian values and provides a unique experience for the kids who attend? Do you brag about the quality of your child care staff? Do you give a picture of the scope of how many kids attend your child care and the impact on the community? Do you mention volunteer opportunities? Do you mention scholarships? OR DO YOU JUST SELL THE FEATURES AND PRICE? If you focus on the cheap price, I will think exactly that, boy the Y is cheap, but I want quality, so I will go elsewhere.

By saying that your web site should focus on mission, is that you should provide ways for people to learn something about your mission on EVERY page, not just the mission page. Of course people dont vision your YMCA mission page, they think they already know what you do. BUT THEY DONT! You have to find other ways to tell them.

Does that make any sense?


Dustin Rue said...

I think your post drives home a good point. Well said.

Steve Heye said...

I may have made my point, but that doesnt make it any easier for someone like you to actually implement it, sorry. How do we make the same point with all of our staff?

I am still thinking through the question on creating and managing great content plus getting the staff to care enough to do it.

Dustin Rue said...

Hey, the beauty of it for me is that I don't have to implement it. I don't write copy :) I program sites and do layout but the copy comes from the marketing people. I try to put in some input about where to place things but as far as how things are said, that's all up to them.

So getting this message to the right people is critical as well. I look forward to seeing a post on your thought as to how to do just that.