The organization chart seems to be an important driver for organizing websites. This reflects “inside-out” thinking rather than “outside -in” thinking.
[Note: This post was originally published on February 22, 2016. Since then we have great interest from our readers on How to organize a website? We also look at various Google Analytics reports for different types and sizes of organizations and are surprised at how the website structure does not seem to address the interests of stakeholders. This post is updated on March 9, 2021 with a new image and some additional explanation. We hope will help all businesses improve their website organization to try and speak to each category of stakeholders. This should in turn improve the impact of all websites as we come out of the pandemic.]
Our dear readers would agree that the first thing everybody has been doing since the pandemic is – going online. After all what else can you do if you are stuck at home?
If you look at your search terms on Google Analytics or Google Ads ( if you run ads) is a lot of traffic coming from your brand name. People type your brand name and click the first thing that comes up. Here is a way to look at how you might organize your website for different stakeholders. In each case, it’s a good idea to think of these stakeholders as already connected to you and those who are potentially interested in getting connected to you:
- Customers/Prospects: If you have a large customer base (eg. Amazon) it makes sense to allow the customer to be logged in to improve the customer experience. For both Customers and Prospects there should be content on this section that is frequently asked.Marketing and Sales folks should weigh in on theses pages.
- Employee/prospective employee: Here too the employee is already a “connected person and it’s good to have an employee portal that can have specific details like email, benefits like medical insurance etc. Also it’s good to put out content that is useful to a potential employee here. The potential employee is already looking at different sites (eg. Glassdoor) so why not put out your official version. Human Resources (HR) should weigh in on this section.
- Investors/prospective investors: Similarly this section needs to speak to questions investors and would be investors might have that you are able to share. The finance and investor relations folks need to weigh in on this part.
- Suppliers/potential suppliers/partners: This section should speak to the external partners who make your business work. For example, innovative suppliers should be able to pitch ideas to the right people in your organization. Partners would include distributors,resellers etc. who are either part of your value chain or might be interested in becoming a partner. This section needs inputs from the Supply Chain, Innovation and Distribution folks. Why innovation? Because having a way to attract innovators to partner can be very helpful. If a portal seems too difficult, clear email details can make the organization seem more welcoming.
Coming to an example of a flower business, you will see websites organized around departments. A prominent flower website has the URL that is organized in typical industrial era format, for e.g.
xxflowers.com/categories/valentines ; xxflowers.com/categories/wedding ; xxflowers.com/categories/anniversary
One wonders about reasons for this kind of “manufacturer’s perspective” and not “customer perspective”. It could be that there are different managers for wedding flowers vs. anniversary flowers. Or the financial/accounting system is around these categories. Or some other totally internal purpose that has a good reason. There are good reasons why you have a Boss,Departments and Sections. But that may not have much to do with your customer need structure.
The trouble is that anyone who comes to these pages,in the flower example above, through organic search is not typing the word “categories” when looking for birthday flowers.And that affects the SEO ranking of the website. More importantly, this “inside” orientation does not help the internal organization get more focused on the different needs of the different segments of customers. Instead of thinking constantly about how respective markets for wedding and anniversary flowers is changing, managers are caught up with internal and supply chain issues.
Here are five tips to developing more effective website structures. In the following imagine different stakeholders in place of the customer and you have a clearer idea of what the content should be:
- Think like your customer: If the customer thinks occasion (eg. wedding) then have all the flowers appropriate for that particular occasion organized into one page that has a URL like xxflowers.com/wedding. Cut out the word “categories” and there is no need to insert “occasion” instead because no one types “occasion wedding” on the search bar. If the same flowers can go to other pages like the anniversary flowers page , it’s OK to repeat that particular arrangement in the URL xxflowers.com/anniversary. And if these happen to be roses have another page that has the URL xxflowers.com/roses.
- Think URL and landing page from customer’s eyes: Every page should be talking and presenting only one theme. If you have a page that is about “roses” make sure that there are no orchids on that page.
- Make sure that the images have “ALT TEXT”: Search engines like Google are getting better and may be soon be able to read an image. But for now you need to have every image titled with what the image is about from the customer point of view. If there are different types of roses then mention the word “roses” on every image description. Try to be accurate in your image description. Another specialized florist should not have to disagree with your description of the image.
- Install Google Analytics other analytics software: Make sure that have analytics code installed on your website. It’s free for Google Analytics and easy to install.Over time you will know amazing details about the visitors of your pages like visitor location,date, time on page, which other pages they saw, eCommerce, cart abandon and many others. So long as you have the analytics past data is easy to pull up even if you do not have the time to analyze immediately. At least the data will be there and help your next website re-design and tweaks.
- Decide which pages to promote in advertising: If your website is already organized around how your customer thinks- it becomes far easier to advertise particular pages. Thus if you are in the flowers business and you are expecting wedding demand over the Spring and Summer- you are ready to advertise that particular page. We feel sorry for advertisers who advertise and get a visitor to land on their home page. It’s just too much work for a visitor to figure out the “wedding” page unless they are really close to buying. And this goes for Google AdWords and PPC advertising, display advertising, Facebook advertising etc.
To summarize, a digital presence is customer facing and the website should be organized in a manner that corresponds to what the customer is looking for. About StratoServe Digital Marketing Services.