Take a look at the goals for your web relaunch (or for your last web relaunch), and peel away the formal language. Do the goals look something like this?
- our site looks old‐ish and needs to be more current and reflect “the brand”
- our site needs to be “more engaging” with an end goal of boosting recruitment and online gifts
- our feelings about our current CMS are somewhere between ambivalence and hate
- we have a ton of properties (social media, departments, alumni magazine, blogs) and have no real publishing model and badly need one
- we have no good training processes and would like to rectify this
If you’ve been working in higher education for one or more web relaunches, I can almost guarantee you’ve seen a list very much like the one above. I can almost guarantee you’ve seen this list because I see it—or some very close variation of it—over and over in the many RFPs my firm receives from colleges and universities each month.
Strategic goals, like the ones in the list above, must be laid out in order to generate shared understanding, define the constraints of a project and outline the minimum viable success for the project. But if you are aiming for results for time invested and money spent, you should also be adding some tactical, quantifiable goals early in your relaunch process. The quantifiable goals can help flesh out specific things you want to happen by the time the new site goes live. Below are some baseline tactical goals that any college or university should be setting for any web relaunch.
- increase click‐throughs to academics and admissions section by x%
- increase new visitors (non‐University IP) to site by x%
- increase overall number of applications by x%
- reduce the total amount of time needed to get from any point of entry into the site to a finished application by x seconds
- increase completed applications by x%
- increase online gifts by x%
- search engine optimization to obtain better (ideally first page returns) for common shared terms with competitors
- increase search engine traffic to targeted lead pages such as majors / minors / programs by x%
- reduce page weight of all main templates in the site to a load time of x seconds (because page weight is inversely proportional to conversions and search)
- make site accessible on all devices, or at a minimum cover smartphones, tablets, and desktop views
- federal and state accessibility compliance for all pages using new templates
- x number of content editors trained for new CMS editing
- x number of content editors trained for writing for the web
Quantifiable goals matter because fuzzy outcomes like “we made the site more engaging” and “people seem to hate the CMS less” are easy categories to declare success in. By setting measurable goals (in addition to strategic ones) at the beginning, you’ll be able to say “here are specific ways we won” at the end.