This article originally appeared on the Prime Design Solutions website.

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The process of creating a successful website begins before the first pixel has been placed on your design. When you’re eager to get your new and improved website up and running, you may be tempted to rush into things, skipping crucial steps that should be taken when starting your project. One of the first steps when starting a website project should be determining the goal of the site.

A clear and concise goal is the cornerstone from which you can build a powerful website that delivers meaningful content, resulting in conversions and profit.

Why is it important to define a goal for your website?

It’s important to remember that to your user, the web is a tool. When they come to your website, they will undoubtedly have a goal and in mind. If the goals of your website have not been established, or don’t line up with those of the user, it can lead to a frustrating experience.

How do you determine the goal of your website?

The first and most important step in determining the goal of your website is to determine the goal of your ideal user. The user being able to accomplish their goal successfully will lead to them having a good impression of your website and overall positive feeling about your brand. The goals of your company are second — but you will often find that the goal of the user will work towards the goals of the company.

For example, a grocery store might have an overall company goal of getting customers into their stores. This is an obvious and important goal. They may find, however, that the primary goal of their web-user is to find out what items are on sale on a given week. While these two goals are not exactly alike, the goal of learning about sales and promotions would certainly work towards the overall goal of getting customers to visit their stores. Making this feature of the website the most prominent will make the user happy, giving them what they need and leaving them with a more favorable impression of the store.

Multiple goals for the same site

While there may be multiple reasons people are coming to your website, there should typically be a primary goal. When establishing your website’s goals, it’s important to remember that all other goals are secondary to the primary goal. You should be overly critical when establishing goals, in order to determine if the goals you consider important are actually going to be beneficial to the user or the business.


Who is your user?

Most established businesses will already have a good idea who their target audience is. If you are a start-up, take a look at your competitors to see who is using their product or services. Think about the product or service you provide and who will benefit the most from it. Don’t think so much about who you would like to your user to be, but rather who is most likely to be looking for what you have to offer.

You can use the information you know or have gathered about your target audience to develop a user profile. Your user profile should include things like:

  • How does my user interact with technology?
  • How do they search for things on the web?

Using user profiles to establish goals

Using your user profile, as well as any research you have available (Google Analytics reports, for example), you should be able to determine their desired interactions with your website.

Ask yourself: What are their intentions and what are they expecting to find?

It’s important that your user feels a sense of control when you using your website. There is a concept called the 3-Click-Rule that states that users will stop using a website if they can’t complete their desired action after three clicks. This may not always hold true, but it is a good rule to follow. If we are designing with a clearly defined goal, it is easy to accomplish.

What if the defined goals turn out to be incorrect?

Setting a goal for your website is a fluid process. Tools like Google Analytics are great for keeping track of user data from your website. Don’t be afraid to use this data to redefine your goals.

You can also try some A/B testing, a method of presenting two randomly selected groups of users with different content or design elements to analyze their interactions and find out which was more effective.

Using design and content to work towards your goal

Make sure your message is clear and concise. Trim the fat from your content and present users with information that is memorable and easy to digest.

Establish a content hierarchy to determine the order of importance for the various elements on your website. Elements directly supporting the overall goal should be at the top of the content hierarchy.

When designing a website, one thing I like to ask myself regarding each element on the page is “What is the purpose of this?” If it is not working towards the goal of the website, it’s time to reevaluate that element.

Common mistakes

  • “Clutter” is a simple way of saying that you are trying to fit too much content into one area of your design. This prevents the user from being able to focus on one point.
  • Lack of maintenance – If your users are coming to your website with the goal of getting information on the latest promotions and sales, it is essential to make sure they are being updated religiously.
  • Lack of repetition – Wherever your user goes on your site, they should be able to easily find their way to the action they want to perform. It’s important that every page on your website supports the goal. If the goal is getting people to call you, make sure the phone number is easy to find, no matter what page you are on.