Website health check

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Claire Lowe and Neil Gunn, WWF UK
Web effectiveness workshop
www.charitycomms.org.uk/events

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  • Jess and Vicky came to talk to us about presenting at a really convenient timeWe were in the middle of writing and deploying a new web strategy for WWF in the UKWe decided to co-present this talk, so we can blame the other person if it goes horribly wrong, but mainly because of the different roles we have at WWF. Neil is our digital strategy adviser. I look at all of the digital-related work we do, from new hardware and software, through owned channels like the websites and blog, to our presence on social platforms and the digital skills we need as an organisation. Digital has expanded to include lots of areas of the way an organisation operates, but the core is still the website. It’s where you can see the whole length and breadth of what WWF does, find out how to get in touch with us, support us, complain about us. It gives us a massive insight into who our supporters (and detractors) are, what they want, how they can help our mission. So, how to make sure it’s doing all of those jobs well?We’ve boiled it down to a few key phrases and a set of principles, to help us to focus on the core jobs that our site needs to perform:To grow our audience and raise funds to support our workso we need to provide a website experience that attracts, engages and encourages actionand content that can be found, meets audiences needs and maximises opportunities for them to share, take action or donateC&F strategy KPIs350k unique visitors per month15% fundraising funnel conversion2.5% non-fundraising conversion Site principlesContent creation follows a content strategy and adds valueBetter understand our online audiences to provide content that they will respond toTest and optimise our priority content to maximise its effectivenessInclude obvious and relevant calls to action to encourage people to take part Ensure information architecture reflects our organisational goals & audience needsEnsure browsing accessibility and usability is optimised for all devices or platforms that have reached scaleClear ownership of content and an appropriate publishing workflow Here’s Claire to talk you through some of those areas, in a handy 10 step guide to checking that your website is doing it’s job..
  • Intro to the 10 stepsWe’ll be running through for making our website as effective as possibleNot a one-off process but its where we've startedI’ll talk though each step Why do it, What the step is, What you’ll get out if it and some learning from WWF.
  • 1 What is your website for?Why do itTo create a vision for what you are online. Unless you can answer that one, then you’re going to struggle to work out how effective your website is.So you know what it is you’re trying to achieve, and from there what are your objectives. It’ll help you on all your projects, whether it’s a review of your site structure and content or moving to a responsive web design. As well as help you deal with requests from the rest of the organisation –  “this needs to go on the homepage”, “we should launch a blog”, “can you convert this brochure for the web?”To get buy in from your senior management.What the step isAsk your staff – “Why do we have a website?” How does it help you do your job? Fundraising think its to raise money, schools think its for education, comms think its to push out the key messages. Run a staff survey, or do some internal focus groups, or just within your team run a brainstorm to gather ideas. Funnel these into one overarching statement.What will you get out of itAspiration and vision to unite under.Something to refer back to and review to see if you are on track - and so you know when you’ve got there.Use to establish relationships with stakeholders and show why they need to be involved. It’s not just about web team or web manager.How have we done it/ practical tipsOur draft vision is that our website is “the most inspiring authority on endangered wildlife & habitats conservation that helps educate people in the UK to take action”. It;s made up a number of keywords that help us make the site as effective as possible.Inspiring – helps us to push back on the more scientific contentAuthority – helps us push back on fluffy comms that isn’t substantiatedEndangered wildlife & habitats conservation – the core of what we do - isn’t just about iconic speciesEducate people in the UK – WWF is an international network but our audience goal is UK not global  - and our targets are around growing the number of people in the UK that want to protect the planetTake action – we want people to donate to us, take our pledges & petitions and to share with their friends
  • 2. Understand what you’ve got - auditWhy do itSo you can see why things are the way they are, and the size of it. So you know where you are starting from and possibly how big a problem you’ve got.To be effective, you really need to know what you’ve got and how hard it’s working for you.  You may already have a small, well defined site and clear understanding of all your presence online. If not, then you need to get a grip of this to be effectively manage it all.  So an audit is a good place to start.What the step isDepending on your size you might DIY, or if you are larger (have no time but have some budget) consider getting an agency to do it. You should understand; how many sites have you got, who owns them, who pays for them.Then look at the value that they are to you - are they getting traffic, generating financial value?And how up to date are they - when last updated, how accurate? When last viewed? Is it old but ‘evergreen’ content still bringing in users, or is it old and outdated and damaging your reputation?  How many pages are there? Is the structure helping you meet your vision? (Does it look like your org chart? Start again!)What will you get out of itOnly go as far as its useful for your organisation. Don’t navel gaze for too long but try to get a good sense of the problems and then focus on those.You should end up with a good description of your site at the least. So we now know we have at least 10 sites to review/ migrate/ shutdown. We’ve got 7,000 pages and 3,000 articles on the main website. This level of detail is enough for most people. But think about who needs top level and who needs the detail and how you’re going to display it - pictures can help!How have we done it/ practical tipsWe didn’t know how many sites we had let alone how many pages on our main site.  We found some monstrosities eghttp://www.wwf.org.uk/deeperluxury/ or sites no-one loved anymore that needed migrating eghttp://earthbook2012.org simply by talking to people and rummaging through our site.Our technical manager exported the whole site structure. Next step is to map this against data from Google Analytics. To review each page is not practical for us but we know we need to cull/ understand how much bespoke code we’ve got before we make a move into responsive web design.
  • 3 Understand your audiencesWhy do itAll well and good to understand what you’ve got but you really need a know what your audiences expect and want too. So you don’t build your site for your CEO – you have the evidence to show what people want and need.To provide content that they want from you but also to engage your audience with the things you want them to be interested in. Match their expectation with yours and do that balancing act of your needs and theirs. What the step isYou might run a website survey to ask your audience why there are visiting, you can look at Google analytics to see what search terms people are arriving on and what pages are most viewed, you could conduct stakeholder interviews internally to get proxy user views (but be careful here!), you could compare against similar orgs to see what might be making people tick elsewhere. Add Feedbackify to your site so every user can feedback on their experience. Try focus groups to really get a sense of your audience (but can be expensive). Use any other data on your supporters eg supporter database demographics.  Use VWO heatmaps to see which parts of the pages your users are clicking on.What will you get out of itDepending on what you ask; demographics, suggested improvements, key content themes, anecdotal evidence, statistical proof that some content is delivering ROI. But ultimately what you want to know is how much the content on your site is meeting your audiences needs from this step.If they tell you they are coming for species information and you hide this three layers down in your site navigation (wwf.org.uk/what_we_do/safeguarding_the_natural_world/wildlife/ for example!) then you might not be as effective as you think.If you gather enough information consider developing audience personas or pen profiles. Can be useful to assess content effectiveness ie would Charlie from Woking Junior School understand this page? But can be costly.How have we done it/ practical tipsWe ran a really simple 2-step site survey.  We were really surprised that lots of kids coming for projects on tigers. Don’t make assumptions. So for us its about moving this audience from here into a broader understanding eg climate change impact on tigers.We’ve used all of the above and now we’re at the stage where we need to analyse the data. We’ve struggled to find the time to do this, as there is always the day job. But we’re reluctant to send it to an agency as we want to own the knowledge so we can really make use of it.CharityComms have loads of data to help you understand trends too. Eg Benchmarking survey.
  • 4 Create a content strategyWhy do itParticularly important if you are devolving content creation so that everyone understands what content is needed and what works to get the message out there.Also so that you know what assets (pictures, videos, words) you have, how to make them work hard for you, find new ways of reusing content and getting it out to your audience.What the step isMeans many things to many people – content marketing, digital marketing, web content strategy. It could be a simple step by step guide for your content contributors. It could be something that is integrated into all new projects. It could be an entire strategy in itself. Or it could be these 10 steps…At the very least you should be thinking about how your content helps you reach your vision. And how you plan for better content creation and management.Think about SEO and what content you want to be easy to find. What are the hot keywords (use Google Trends), who are you trying to influence, what do you want them to do, what content already exists on this topic, who else is talking about this topic, is your content sharable, who owns it and who is measuring its impact.Think about content types - video, quizzes, infographics.What will you get out of itHopefully a better understanding in your organisation of the importance of content. So, fewer departmental updates on the website and more engaging content that is user-focused, inspiring, actionable and reusable.How have we done it/ practical tipsOur challenge has been that a number of different teams feel like they own the content and therefore we have a number of strategies that talk about content strategies but don’t yet tie together.But our key principals are: think about your audience, make it engaging for them, give them an action to take where possible, make it SEO friendly, make it sharable and reusable, measure impact.
  • 5 Define your KPIsWhy do itSo we’ve talked about the vision, and setting your objectives. But then you need something more tangible to measure success against.What the step isList of factors to test against to check you are on track. These might have been set for you at a top level. But if not, it’s useful to have a manageable number of indicators to be tracking on a monthly, weekly or even daily basis.  What will you get out of itCharts to prove you're doing the right things. Or a kick up the backside when you’re not.Dashboard check every day on Google Analytics. Alerts on Google Analytics.Benchmarks for visits, conversions and engagement - depending on your website vision & goals.How have we done it/ practical tipsTop level targets were set for me…one for financial and one non-financial but they were broad brush and both had different starting points. Financial have typically been easier for us to measure but often dependant on other teams. So we identified some other measures . Can be difficult to measure engagement - is it time on site, bounce rate, return visits, shares?Would like to visualise for Trustees but tricky - broad top level doesn’t always reflect the detailed context well.Charity benchmark survey - is useful but also need to understand within the context of your vision.
  • 6 Test and optimiseWhy do itSo you know what’s working and what isn’t. So you can improve on your KPIs.Make sure you test something you can action. Don’t run a massive survey unless you have time to analyse.Have the evidence to show your boss/ another team.What the step isSimple surveys, heatmaps - A/B, multivariate tests - use Visual Website Optimiser, Google ExperimentsThink about where it should be – to be effective you need traffic – so test your copy/ images/ layout. Could be microcopy that has massive impact on conversion. Placement on a form might be the change you need. Or it might be the whole design. Do step by step, & learn at each stepLook at what others are doing and get ideas.What will you get out of itImproved effectiveness. Needs to be ongoing. Get stakeholders to suggest what they’d like to test.Embed it into culture & get competitive about it. Make bets on the winner.How have we done it/ practical tipsHave the evidence to show your boss/ another team. Eg will wind farms as imagery for Earth Hour work?
  • 7 Clear roles & responsibilitiesWhy do itTo tackle the ‘web team owns the website, it’s not my job’ issue. But more importantly, web geeks – as brilliant as they are – are not subject matter or even necessarily audience experts. To really create strong online content, you need to work as a team.What the step isID the subject matter expert, and partner with online team member (or other content creator). Agree roles and capacity available. Aim to have that role reflected in experts objectives.What will you get out of itExpectations set around roles and responsibilities, Sense of ownership, and an understanding of the value of good content, and the importance of the subject matter experts involvement.How have we done it/ practical tipsTime and capacity is a major issue. At WWF, our programmes division in particular still feel quite separated from the process, and that they’re not a part of the solution to improving the site. Tough to ID the right owners when you don’t have a good knowledge of the team in question.
  • 8 Set up a workflowWhy do itWWF’s approach has been fairly ad-hoc in the past, bourne out of a desire to be open and flexible. We have found that this can be a barrier in itself, as Pandas like processes. In the future, the practical work of writing web content can actually be shared.What the step isFormalise the process and agree when things are going to happen.What will you get out of itSetting out some instructions on how things should work, can help people to engage in your process. You’ll have expanded your capacity to deliver good web content, and established a longer-term owner and interested stakeholder.How have we done it/ practical tipsYour CMS can let you down, and not be flexible enough to match your people process. Deadlines can very easily slip – new stakeholders will often de-prioritise the work when it comes to the crunch.
  • 9 Web guidelines & standardsWhy do itWith all this wonderful sharing of responsibilities going on, the fundamentals of good web design, accessibility, info architecture, SEO, coding, and user experience can be forgotten. It’s the bit that your online team is best at, and conveniently the bit your new stakeholders know least about.What the step isGetting the balance right between all this wonderful new content and the realities of publishing your charities website.What will you get out of itFindability on the web, an enjoyable user experience for your visitors, and the peace of mind that your compliant with cookies laws, DDA, charity commission and WWW standardsHow have we done it/ practical tipsHaving the standards documents in place does not guarantee they’ll always be adhered to. Desire for an innovative, engaging and enjoyable to use website can conflict with best practice. Rules can also put new web champions off with their complexity. Getting the balance right and agreeing the roles in advance is important. This is a professional exercise, and all stakeholders are responsible for the quality of the end product.
  • 10 Train your contributorsWhy do itWriting great content is a science as much as it is an art. You can be a great writer and Google will ignore your pages and stick you on page 2 of search results. You can be the best SEO practitioner in the world, but lose sight of the story you’re telling and the point of telling it.What the step isTeaching the scientist the art and the artists the science. Putting your content creators through their SEO and accessibility training, and on the other side, your web manager and developers through their creative writing paces.What will you get out of itA multi-skilled team with representatives from across your organisation. A sense that you are prepared to invest in your colleagues and have them be a key part of your work.How have we done it/ practical tipsCosts money and takes time. A sense that you’re trying to palm the work off onto others. But more and more colleagues are actively seeking these skills. We’ve started by agreeing specific budget for this, but aim to centralise this in HR training ASAP.
  • Conclusion“What does your website need to be doing for you and your supporters, and how do you know when it's letting you down?”I’m afraid we can’t actually answer that for you but…Hopefully, these 10 steps from writing your strategy to training your staff gives you a structure for reviewing the effectiveness of your site and if its achieving what you need and what your audiences want.We’re part way there - we’ve got a vision, we’ve done an audit and stakeholder mapping.Where we are making progress - is testing as a default in online team, firming up our KPIs and web standards.What we want to move towards is - implementation of a content strategy across whole org and measuring and monitoring on a daily basis not once a quarter when its too late to be more effective.
  • Website health check

    1. 1. Claire Lowe @lowecl Copyright Wikimedia Commons Neil Gunn @nearly_gone Website effectiveness Website effectiveness December 2013 What doesDecember 2013 need to your website be doing for you and your supporters, and how do you know whenWhat does you down? need to it's letting your website be doing for you and your supporters, and how do you know when it's letting you down? 1
    2. 2. Copyright Amy Taylor Digital strategy
    3. 3. 10 key steps Decide what your site is for – write a core strategy Understand what you’ve got – do an audit Know your audiences and what they want Create a content strategy Define your KPIs Test and optimise Create clear roles & responsibilities for contributors 8. Set up a workflow 9. Define web guidelines & standards 10. Train your contributors Copyright Chris Heaton 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
    4. 4. Copyright AlenKadr/Shutterstock 1. What is your website for? “the most inspiring authority Website on endangered wildlife & effectiveness habitats conservation Dec 2013 that helps educate people in the UK to take action” 4
    5. 5. Copyright Wikimedia Commons (Cave where the remainings of Homo floresiensis were discovered in 2003, Lian Bua, Flores, Indonesia) 2. Understand what you’ve got Website effectiveness Dec 2013 5
    6. 6. 3. Know your audiences and what they want Website effectiveness Copyright CuteStuff.co Dec 2013 6
    7. 7. 4. Create a content strategy Website effectiveness Copyright Wikimedia Commons Dec 2013 7
    8. 8. 5. Define your KPIs Website effectiveness Dec 2013 8
    9. 9. 6. Test and optimise Website effectiveness Copyright Professor Tetsuro Matsuzawa Dec 2013 9
    10. 10. 7. Clear roles & responsibilities for contributors Copyright Steve Jurvetson (ants in NASA gel farm) Website effectiveness Dec 2013 10
    11. 11. 8. Set up a workflow Website effectiveness Copyright Mirari Erdoizaf Dec 2013 11
    12. 12. 9. Define your web guidelines & standards Website effectiveness Copyright Adam Groffman Dec 2013 12
    13. 13. 10. Train your contributors Website effectiveness Copyright Wikimedia Commons Dec 2013 13
    14. 14. Website effectiveness Website effectiveness Copyright Wikimedia Commons What does your website need to be doing for you and your supporters, and how do you What does your website need to know whenbe doing for you and your it's letting you down? supporters, and how do you know when it's letting you down? 14
    15. 15. Got questions? Website effectiveness Copyright Aaron Muderick Dec 2013 15

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