Website Optimization – The Role of Page Goals

“Why do you have a website?” I love that question; it tends to focus the mind. Any time you develop measurement frameworks for digital channels, you must be focused. Digital platforms, like websites, often have multiple stakeholders with different goals. There’s always a danger that overall objectives may not be clear. And if the objectives are not clear, then success is next to impossible to measure.

It’s challenging to developing good key performance indicators (KPIs). It’s easy enough to come up with the right metrics, but clarifying robust objectives is more difficult. It’s also easier for e-commerce sites to develop KPIs with strong objectives.

But most sites don’t sell stuff. So why do they exist? They exist for good reasons and those reasons must be expressed in clear and definitive terms. That’s the hard part. So, make objectives clear and measurable, describe what “good looks like,” and select appropriate metrics that measure outputs and outcomes. So once that is done, is that the end of the story? Not really, it’s just the beginning.

Once overall site goals are in place and KPIs have been defined, the next question is: which sections of the site are working well and which ones aren’t? If we don’t know the answer to this, then how can we focus our efforts properly on site optimization? This is why we need not just site goals but page goals as well. A page goal defines what that page is trying to achieve. It answers the question, “Why does this page exist?”

Stating clearly why a page exists and outlining its objectives is a very useful exercise, particularly when you are designing a page. Page goals help you focus what the page is trying to achieve and feed directly into the development of the information architecture of the page – for example, at wireframe stage. Page goals are particularly useful in circumstances when there are multiple stakeholders all trying to get a piece of the action on a page; without page goals, you can end up with pages that don’t work particularly well for the business or website visitor.

In the same way as for defining overall site goals, page goals should be as clear and precise as possible. Something like, “To help users achieve their goals” doesn’t really cut it. Which users? Which goals? In what way? It has to be clearly defined. Once it’s been clearly defined, then a measurement framework can be developed for each page that describes how the page’s success can be assessed. Once the measurement framework has been developed, then measurement systems can be configured to include the right kind of metrics in the right kind of way. With page level measurement frameworks, consider the context of the page itself. How do people get to the page? How far is it into a customer journey?

Consider the classic product page on an e-commerce site. A product page has a tough job. The primary purpose of a product page is generally to persuade a website visitor to add a product to the basket. To do this it needs to provide all the information required in a clear and concise way. To measure the success of the product, you could look at metrics such as the add-to-basket rate. You could also measure the effectiveness of different components or tools on the page in terms of how they influence the add-to-basket rate. But often a product page on an e-commerce site is also the landing page. Often it’s the first page that a visitor sees on a site. For them it’s also the home page. So, the product page also has the goal of building trust and consideration for new visitors. It doesn’t just have to persuade the potential customer to buy the product; it has to persuade the customer to buy it from you. By identifying these additional page goals, you also identify the need to measure success using additional metrics, such as the bounce rate for new visitors.

Not every single page on a site necessarily has to have page goals, but certainly they should be in place for each different type of page or section on a site. Page goals are useful to help define what good looks like at the micro level and to ensure that your measurement frameworks are measuring the right things in the right way.

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