So, you’ve just spent several months, a significant slice of budget dollars and plenty of staff hours on a major Website redesign or transformation effort. The site looks great, the project team gets well-deserved kudos and the executives are pleased. But, how do you know if your effort was successful? And then how successful? Do the benefits of the redesign offset the investment of time and money? How do you know?

In many cases we find there is too little emphasis placed on measuring the success of a Web transformation effort. It tends to be a substantial investment of resources, yet many organizations have no sense of the return on that investment – whether that return is even positive. Why is this important? 

The days of the “about us” brochure Website are long gone. Your site is a strategic sales, marketing and operational resource. It supports key business objectives, or at least it should. While the specific objectives will vary by organization and industry, at a high level, your public-facing Website should drive revenue, decrease costs (usually by optimizing or automating operational processes)  and / or increase customer satisfaction or engagement. Ideally you want to measure the effectiveness of any change to sales/marketing efforts or operational processes. If the change yields positive results, then great! If not, figure out why and make adjustments. Of course it’s difficult to make adjustments if you don’t know whether or not you’ve made a positive change, and why.

So, how do you measure the effectiveness of a Web transformation effort? It’s much more than “we’re getting more visitor traffic” or “the site looks better now than it did before.” This brings to mind the infamous “putting lipstick on a pig” analogy.  If the site looks good or attracts more visitors, that’s nice, but is that really having a positive impact on your key performance indicators (KPIs)?

The goal is to determine if the Website is doing a better job of achieving those key business objectives after the transformation effort. To do this, we first need to define appropriate KPIs. You’ll want to do this before the transformation so you can establish a baseline for comparing before and after results.

Ideally this measurement process should be an ongoing activity, part of the overall Website management process which enables continuous incremental improvement. After all, your site is not static, hence there’s an ongoing need to evaluate objectives and adjust course accordingly. At minimum you should review metrics before and after the transformation and then once a month, looking at year-over-year and month-over-month comparisons to factor out seasonal trends.

In my next post we'll look at three ways you can measure success.