Set Yourself Up for Website Success

I often use the analogy of building a house when describing the important aspects of creating a website. I often start at the foundation, but want to back up today and discuss:

  • The web host (location of your web “house”)
  • The content management system (building approach of your web “house”)

These two decisions, made at the very start of every web project are critical to success. I have recently helped clients move relatively new sites to a new host and new CMS because these decisions were not made properly for their needs.

Select a Web Host

Every website needs a home. This is called the web host. The technology and security requirements for any computer that will host public websites are complex. Therefore, it is a best practice to select a reputable host for your website.

There are many comparisons among hosts that you can review. Among the things you want to consider:

  • Cost
  • Types of sites hosted – some hosts optimize their environment for a particular content management system
  • Software maintenance – “managed” hosts take care of keeping your software updated, eliminating one worry

Small hosts with great reputations generally get gobbled by larger hosts. This is not necessarily bad, but it does mean that it is important to periodically revisit your host selection. The best choice today may not serve you best in the future. Be prepared to have to move your site over the course of the years.

Pick Your Content Management System (CMS)

Don’t let your web support team pick your CMS without your involvement. There are several good options, and the “right” CMS is about more than the technology. You will work with the CMS any time you want to update your site, so choose wisely!

A CMS facilitates the process of creating and managing content, without requiring you to know a programming language. But modern platforms enable you to do much more than that. The right CMS can help your business increase customer engagement and brand awareness and support marketing and sales.

Consider these core elements of the CMS:

  • Functionality – Does it have the features that will help your organization meet its goals? List the essential features that you need (content management, SEO, WYSWIG editor, integrations, ecommerce, etc) and each option you consider on these core needs.
  • Flexibility – Can you add pages? Change your template?Add functionality? You want to be sure the CMS can grow as your business grows.
  • Ease of Use – What is easy for some is hard for others. Give any CMS a try before you commit. Involve everyone who will need to work with the CMS.
  • Active Development – Select a CMS that is actively developed, evidenced by regular version updates. The internet is a changing place and CMS software needs to keep pace. “Old” software leaves you vulnerable to hacking and other security breaches.
  • Cost – Even open source, “free” CMS options have a cost. How much time, effort, and vendor support is needed to set up a site? What is involved for routine maintenance. Be sure to evaluate short-term and long-term costs when deciding the value of any CMS.

 

Measure Success on Social Media

Measuring success on social media depends on your goal. You must track the metrics that show progress toward that goal. That is the only data that is meaningful.

This requires that, as you formulate your strategy, you also define how you will measure progress. Here are some ideas for measures that might make sense.

3 Metrics to Avoid

Likes

Generally, likes aren’t insightful measures. People mindlessly like things, and those clicks don’t tell you much. In fact, search engines have reduced the credibility assigned to a brand based on likes.

Website Traffic

Website traffic is another commonly used, but incomplete, metric. Traffic alone does not tell you about who is visiting and what they are doing. Dig deeper.

Comments

Overall, people lurk more and comment less. Measuring your success against the average number of comments will only confirm that you are impacted by this trend like everyone else. There’s no great insight to be gained.

3 Metrics to Consider

Share of Voice

Monitor mentions of your brand and the “voice” of these mentions – positive, negative or neutral. A tool like Social Mention can assess your brand’s mentions in comparison to your competitors. You can also look at the best performing competitors for insight and ideas.

Customer Service Provided

People expect to connect with brands for customer service. Monitoring how well you do in that category can be a bellwether for your brand overall. Track issues, platforms used by customers to raise them, and, most importantly, response time. In general, the faster the response time, the higher the customer satisfaction.

Website Traffic Sources and Conversions

Social media should be used to drive interest in your brand and traffic to your website. Pay attention to your website traffic sources to make sure your social efforts are proportional to the traffic generated.

Further, track these visitors against your site conversion goal. Whether you want sign ups for your email list, a product sale, or some other action, watch your conversions. With Google Analytics, you can define and track your website conversion goal.