It’s surprising to me when agencies say they don’t really define web project business objectives. A lot of reasons are given. From “we’re designers” to “I’m not a business person”. This could harm the longevity of your web agency business. Starting a project without clearly defined business objectives will only make things more difficult. Both for you and your client.
Clearly defined web project business objectives helps you take better decisions
Good web project business objectives has the potential to guide every single decision in a project. It’s that simple. The objectives should help all disciplines, user testing, UX, programming, copywriting etc take informed decisions.
If one of your clients web project business objectives is “make it easier for users to download a pdf about Product X”. Then you know that A/B testing will be a good investment. You probably also know that, contrary to what your clients marketing dept says, asking for an email when downloading the document is a bad idea. Why? Because it works against the business objective. If the goal was to capture leads then it would make sense. But that’s not the objective. The objective was to get the pdf in the hands of as many as possible.
Web project business objectives makes investing in certain functionality easier
The majority of businesses are careful about their spending. And rightly so. But it’s also important to remember this. The majority of businesses will invest in something if they know that the return of investment has the potential of being greater than the initial investment. Having clearly defined business objectives helps with explaining return on investment.
I’d argue that clearly defined business objectives is the only way to properly align yourself with your client.
Business objectives helps in having focused communication in any web project
Most misunderstandings in web projects comes from lack of communication between the project stakeholders. Avoid this is by having clearly defined web project business objectives. Conversations will be easier if you refer back to them when taking decisions. Things like micro copy for buttons. Image choice. Color choice etc
Of course, business objectives alone will not solve all your communication issues (that’s why we’re building Juntoo). But they are an excellent baseline.
How to identify web project business objectives
Most web project business objectives are clear from the start. Any e-commerce site will be about converting visitors to sales. All copy, design, ux should be based upon optimising that conversion rate. Some websites are different though. For example, what is the business objective of university website?
One website does not always == one clear business objective
So, a university website. What is its business objectives? Well, it’s main purpose is probably to get people to enroll into their programs. But what about attracting new staff? That’s probably a business objective as well. Providing information to parents another, telling students when a new course starts another. This list goes on.
It gets obvious pretty fast that our university website has more than one objective. For the board of directors of the university, more soft issues like knowing how the public perceives its brand is another. This is even more difficult to measure.
It’s easy to overlook some non-obvious web project business objectives. That’s why you alone can’t decide on them. You need to do it together with your client.
Involve all key project stakeholders early
Let’s say that you started the planning phase alone and you decided on some (for you) obvious business objectives. You can now move to wire-framing immediately right? Not so fast. Taking quick decisions now can jeopardise the whole project. You need to involve others. All key stakeholders will need to be aligned on main objectives and final outcomes of the project.
Earlier we had an example of a marketing dept wanting to add an email field when a user wants to download a pdf. If we hadn’t already decided that the business objective was getting the pdf in the hands of as many people as possible then this conversation could quickly turn sour. This is a great example of why ALL key stakeholders needs to be in agreement on what the web project business objectives really are.
How many objectives are needed then?
This is more tricky. You will need to assess this on a project-by-project basis. But a rule of thumb is having a shorter prioritised list is better than having a long, unfocused list. Keep it short and succinct.