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A Quick Guide To An Effective Website Strategy

The perfect way to start when developing a website strategy is to know some of the questions you would like the strategy to answer. Some of this should be left open to the process, of course. But as a starting point you should know why it is crucial for you to use resources on web strategy.

These steps are just a guide to begin, and hopefully these 10 steps could be an inspiration or starting point for other discussions about web strategy.

1. Define a process

Decide on the rules of the game before you start playing. These 10 steps is an outline for a plan.

You should also decide on the roles involved: Who is running the process, who is involved at each step, who makes the final decision and a time schedule.

For our web strategy, the corporate web editor was leading the work. An international web editor group that meets every other week did most of the specific work with the document. And Corporate Management made the final decision on the strategy.

2. Meeting with stakeholders

Now it is time to collect information and input from everybody that is working with the web. That could include web editors, marketing, product managers and management.



3. Set scope 

It is important to be specific in the scope for the web strategy document. Even more important, it should be clear what won’t be a part of the strategy and the discussion.

My two word summary of the scope was always conversions and quality. That covers both the results that leads to sales and the work needed to give the web credibility in the long run. Subjects that we scoped out were social media, community and partner sites. We were also careful about not going too far into the work marketing does to bring traffic to the pages and how sales works with leads from the site.

Exactly how the scope is set for your web strategy will depend on the needs of the organization.

4. Create an outline 

With the scope and all the input from the surveys, we created an outline. It both worked as an overview of the structure in the document and as a place where we put all the questions from the workshop that we would like to address. The main chapter headings were quite stable through the work with the document, but the detailed content overview differed a lot.

This is the main structure we ended up with:

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Scope
  3. Goals
  4. Coordination with marketing and sales
  5. Web organization
  6. Content strategy
  7. Improvement through testing
  8. Common tools
  9. Technical development and support
  10. Domain strategy
  11. Security, Privacy, Cookies

5. Keep stakeholders informed

Talk to marketing teams, manager meetings, web editors and everybody that would like to hear about the web strategy. That made sure that stakeholders were well informed and gave important input to the work.

6. Write text

I feel it is important to engage the whole group, both in writing the text and the discussions. Often it is tempting to keep full control and do everything on your own, but it could mean more work and shallower understanding of the final result.

Each sub-chapter had a short general text that described what we would like to do in the three year perspective. In addition we had a list of action items for each chapter that should be completed within one year.

7. Create a roadmap with all action items

The roadmap started out as a way to check that it was realistic to implement the plan. All action items and development needed for the execution got a row in an Excel-sheet.

One of the common fears with a strategy plan is that it disappears from sight after being discussed. With the roadmap I need to update and work with this on a daily basis.

It also serves as guidance when you get comments on that something is missing from the plan.

8. Write Executive Summary

To focus both yourself and the organization on the key findings, create a good Executive Summary. This should be more than a cheat sheet for management. It should reflect the most important consequences of executing on the plan.

Then we described the four most important conclusions, including a couple of consequences this had for how we needed to change the focus of the organization. A list of chapters with more information pointed the reader in the direction of deeper information about the subject.

9. Get the formal decision

Corporate management got a short presentation of scope and goals early on in the process and access to all documents.

10. Execute

The roadmap is the key document now with lists of specific tasks and projects we need to do.

And in one year a revision will start and new action items will be defined. Web will always be an iterative process.


Also read 9 reasons why website projects fail.

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