How Is Your Website Performing? Ten Reasons for a Web Performance Measurement Framework
Originally posted August 28, 2009, on the GTEC Blog.
By Denise Eisner
A performance measurement framework created specifically for your website shifts the focus from simply reporting last month’s site traffic, to obtaining actionable insights that can help you make informed decisions. Not convinced? Consider ten reasons that make the case for adding a framework to your web strategy.
1. Define what success for your organization looks like – You may know why you need a website, but do you understand if it’s delivering results? You can only manage what you can measure.
2. Align your site with organizational objectives – Your Program Activity Architecture spells out the strategic objectives and associated activities for your department or agency. Determine how your current Web presence can support those objectives, and then frame any future content, information architecture or technological changes in terms of how they support your organization’s goals.
3. Identify the ROT and get rid of it – Measurement of site performance includes casting a bright light on underperforming content, or “Redundant, Outdated and Trivial” pages. This content is best archived in accordance with your IM policies, or backed up to portable media.
4. Monitor campaign effectiveness – For high-profile, public outreach programs, having an established method for monitoring traffic to special landing pages via site, e-mail or printed links will tell you if the chosen messages are working, or not.
5. Validate previous site design choices – Web metrics highlight which links on the home page or key landing pages received the most traffic. If traffic is flowing to your most important content and users aren’t abandoning your site, then the existing design is helping to meet both your goals and, hopefully, theirs!
6. Inform future redesigns – If you are contemplating a significant change to the site architecture, your measurement tools will help focus the design direction on research-based patterns of behaviour and further define user tasks and goals.
7. Identify performance benchmarks – If the core site functionality involves a particular online service, then comparing performance against successful organizations with similar mandates offers further insight into how your site measures up against industry leaders.
8. Define key performance indicators (KPIs) – Ideally, KPIs are directly relevant to a business outcome (e.g., increasing the number of people who complete transactions on the web), or user outcome (e.g., successfully finding a specific piece of information).
9. Maintain evidence of key decisions – A framework document captures the decisions the management team has adopted, providing sustainability of the measurement program.
10. Adopt a research-driven approach to the web – Basing decisions on a continual analysis of evolving business outcomes, web statistical trends and regular user feedback affords management the ability to stay strategic and avoid tactical approaches to the Web.
Denise Eisner works within the Government Service Excellence practice at Systemscope. Want to discuss performance measurement? Email her at eisner[at]systemscope.com!