The business case for your website

By now you have probably realized that your Web site is consuming corporate resources: at least money and time. Maybe you’re wondering whether you are getting a return on the investment.

It’s time to ask yourself some of the questions you should have asked before you decided to put up the site:

  • Do you know who your Web site is aimed at? Can you tell whether you are reaching them? (hint: you may have to use non-Web methods to find out)
  • Can you explain what you want to persuade your visitors to do? Have you figured out how to measure whether they did it? Your measurement should be in your business terms – orders, inquiries, registrations, etc. – rather than techno-geek numbers such as "hits" or "page views"
  • Do you expect them to visit often, and if so do you have enough changing material to make each visit interesting? Have you committed enough resources to support that much updating? Your business case should include the value of the time you have to allocate for maintenance of the site’s content.
  • Was your site supposed to save money and time by reducing the need to assemble and send paper information packages, or to answer telephone inquiries? If so, did you measure the volumes before and after you launched the Web site?

I respectfully submit that if you can’t answer those questions, then you have an unmanaged asset/liability within your business. Normally you would not tolerate that — why should your Web site be treated any differently than any other business activity?

Also: Don’t let your Web site embarrass you