When most organizations and individuals talk about web strategy, they are talking about the organization’s approach to creating the outward presence, an external veneer, with which the general public or internal stakeholders interact.
Web strategies need to be holistic in nature; they have to take into account how the firm works. It has to not just address how the organization will address the wants and needs of a prospective customer base, but how a firm will handle ideas in practice.
Initially, organizations had no mature outlook on their web strategies. It was usually handled in a bottom-up manner. History is interesting sometimes, so let’s flash back nearly twenty years. Making a web presence involved purchasing a domain, and someone creating a rudimentary web page. There was no business like show business; the jazzy website with the additional bells and whistles.
Show Me The Money
Redefining strategy was in its infancy. Imagine someone from the CXO brigade even bothering to look at the World Wide Web. A similar policy today is a sure-shot recipe for disaster. We all know the web business is big bucks today; and companies such as EBay, Groupon, Amazon, LinkedIn, Facebook et al would be nowhere without the Internet.
Strategic leadership now has to do a gradual rethink and leverage their online presence. The web is no longer a mere side dish, it’s the main course. When creating an agenda for the firm, senior leaders have to be involved. People closely involved in important decisions daily can assist in creating a growth roadmap.
For many companies globally, it is the foremost communication medium. With millions of transactions happening daily, the importance of the web as a retail medium is even more important. When strategic thinkers opine, it sets the basis for operational dynamics. Any organization has to set high-level directives that translate into real-time traction.
Web strategies are usually multi-pronged; a formal set of governance standards has to be accompanied with the formalization of authority and hierarchical structures. Effective, focused thought is a mandatory caveat. When senior management is clear on the direction an organization should take, there are set metrics that are an integral part of the collective psyche.
Behind Organization Lines
User-centred design and clarity in organizational goals can help effectively set basic compliance parameters. Clear delegation of authority can successfully alter the battle lines when it comes to program offices, communication and technology and disputes on “Web ownership”.
Success indicators depend on doing the groundwork. Most organizations undertake redesign projects without a clear review of the current presence and a suitable discussion with internal stakeholders to prioritize aims and objectives.
Typical reviews fall into four stages; an expert assessment, a heuristic strategy, understanding competitors and undertaking an analytics review. Expert ideas include using a standard set of criteria to measure the success of a website.
Competition determines improvements in the overall web design etc. However, this alone is not a barometer of success. Thinking beyond the norm, and looking outside the sector for best practices can help users truly innovate.
The Future Is Here
Conduct an overall analytics review; this requires a holistic understanding of website analytics packages. Consider different suites including Google Analytics, WebTrends, Site Catalyst, Coremetrics etc. Open source alternatives are Piwik, AwStats, Bbclone, OpenWeb etc.
As social metrics become increasingly important, some other office suites are Adobe Social Analytics, HooteSuite Analytics, Radian6, SocialMiner among others.
Social web analytics also uses search, indexing and semantic analysis to compile data. This also increasingly requires quantification of trends that helps determine how, where and when to determine engagement.
Using an analytics tool is akin to buying a car; whatever amount of research you put in, unless you take the steering wheel yourself, one cannot know what potholes there are on the road.
Different organizations have varying systems, IT infrastructure, the need for reporting and analysis etc, and various tools. Addressing the online presence requires building something compelling and different.
This has no direct correlation with the features, functionality, and pricing of the web solutions. Assign optimal ownership and reap dividends for the long-term.