When we create websites, we often know what we want the ultimate outcome to be.
For some site owners, this goal may be “To outperform our competitors”, or “To have a great website”, or even “To give visitors a great experience.” The best website design firms focus on creating SMARTER websites that are functional, attractive, and user-friendly.
While these are all great goals to have, they are not really all that quantifiable. These are not always easily attainable goals either, and as a whole can feel a bit daunting when we look at the big picture.
For this reason, it is important for us to set smaller, more attainable goals that will ultimately add up and help us reach those ultimate goals in time.
But how do we do this?
There is a set of criteria first published in 1981 in Management Review. The paper, “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives” by George T. Doran set out concept of S.M.A.R.T. goal setting for management and personal development. The paper set out the five criteria for goal-setting, which included Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. By adding the final E.R. for Evaluate, and Reevaluate, we have a way to set goals for our websites and ensure the perform the way we intend.
In order to understand how we can incorporate the S.M.A.R.T.E.R. approach to goals into our web creation and marketing, let’s look at each individual criteria.
Specific – The first criteria stresses the importance of being very specific with our goals as opposed to focusing on more general ideas and concepts. This is very much like the concept of asking “What?” By stating exactly what we want to happen and why it is important, we can understand exactly what we need to do in order to make our visitors take that specific action.
Measurable – If we cannot measure the outcomes of our initiative, how will we ever know if it was successful? By setting concrete criteria for our goals to meet, we can measure and understand if we are making progress. For websites, this could be anything from how many people downloaded that white paper, to how many people clicked the “add to cart” button, and even how long visitors stayed on your blog and left immediately. Always ask yourself “How?” – How much? How many?” “How often?” – and make sure your answers can be quantified.
Attainable – Do you want to grow your revenues by 1500%? You may want to rethink things a bit. it is important to make sure the goals you choose are realistic and can be attained without stretching your resources too thin. By setting unattainable goals for your business – or even in life – we set ourselves up for failure, and when we fail too often, it can snowball into low morale for yourself and your employees. If you cannot answer the question, “How can this goal be accomplished?” you may want to reconsider.
Relevant – For a lot of websites, the goal of “get more traffic” is a big one. But what does this traffic really do for you? The internet is a huge place,, and not all the traffic out there is going to be relevant to your business. If you own an e-commerce website selling hospital testing equipment and have a goal of “get more likes to my Facebook page”, you are probably going to be pretty upset with the outcome. Yes, getting Facebook likes may be specific, measurable, attainable and time-bound, but if you are trying to sell EKGs to busy hospital administrators, Facebook is probably not going to help you much.
Time-bound – Let’s go back to that e-commerce site. Let’s say you want to increase the sales of EKGs on the website by 25%. That’s awesome, and it seems like an attainable goal. But how much time are we looking at to make this happen? A month? A year? FOREVER? Committing to a deadline helps your business – and your employees – commit to the goal and focus the efforts to make it happen.
Evaluate – The beauty of the internet, and websites, is that analytics allows us to track almost anything.If you want to increase your traffic from a particular website, or improve conversions from a particular page,, you can track and evaluate the results of your efforts. The evaluate step in S.M.A.R.T.E.R. ensures that we are accountable and the actions we take turn out the way we hope.
Reevaluate – In business – and in life – it is important to never be satisfied with the way things are. If you followed the S.M.A.R.T. criteria, evaluated the results and met your goals go ahead and pat yourself on the back. now it is time to reevaluate our goals, and get ready to improve ourselves again. Your website, your business, and your life should never become stagnant.
Your website should be an evolving organism that is continually growing and improving. By setting goals properly and understanding that they are working or failing, we can continue to grow our business even through tougher times. Set some S.M.A.R.T.E.R goals for your website and leave a comment below. We’d love to see how it worked out for your business.