What can you do to help make sure your website continues to be a useful resource into the future?

Maintaining content

New, fresh and interesting content encourages visitors to keep returning to your site.

If people find appealing content on your site, they are more likely to link to it. This means that your site is likely to place higher in search results which, in turn, is likely to help attract more visitors to your site.

Regularly updating content requires commitment. Simply building a website then forgetting about it might not be making the most of your investment. To maintain content, it is often a good idea to have multiple people involved. Another way to generate continually updated content is to offer your visitors the ability to contribute to your site through social media.

For more information, see ‘Choosing and working with social media’.

Visitor feedback

You can request feedback about your organisation or your organisation’s website in different ways, such as: 

  • Using a feedback form.
  • Using a feedback email address.

Feedback forms allow you to structure feedback coming from your website’s visitors. For example, you could ask a user to rate your customer service out of five stars.

Feedback email addresses allow visitors to structure their feedback themselves, as they can put whatever they want into an email message.

Some pros and cons of each are set out in the table below.

Pros Feedback data can be quantitative (i.e. it can be stored as numbers rather than words). This can be turned into graphs and charts, which can help easily identify the strengths and weaknesses of your website. Cons Feedback forms may be seen as more impersonal than the more direct contact of an email address.

Website statistics and usage analysis

One of the key advantages of online marketing is the ability to accurately measure your campaign’s performance.

You can see the result of your investment almost immediately by using  analytics to check the number of click-throughs and responses. This will show how successful a new  call-to-action is and help compare the success of different campaigns.

To measure the success of your online presence and improve its performance, you will need information about your visitors. This information is easily collected and analysed with a good website statistics solution.

Your hosting company may provide you with a basic website statistics tool, or alternatively there are a range of professional solutions available, either free or at a cost. Some websites that provide more information about these include:

external linkGoogle Analytics 

StatCounter external link

external linkYahoo!

Web Analytics external link

WebTrends external link

external linkThe Audit Bureau of Australia 

In most cases, website statistics are generated by a small piece of purpose-built code that is built into your website.

Once implemented, a good statistics tool will monitor your website traffic and provide you with detailed information including: 

  • The number of visitors to your website.
  • The location and distribution of visitors to your site.
  • What website they came from (known as the referring site).
  • The landing page i.e. the web page they enter your site on, which may or may not be your homepage.
  • The number of pages viewed.
  • The time spent on your website.
  • The bounce rate, which tells you how many visitors reach your website and leave it again without clicking further into it.

With all this information at hand, you have a picture of your website’s performance and popularity. In particular, you can identify which pages and products are more popular than others and feed this back into your business and online plans.

By testing various features (for example, modifying the designs of calls-to-action) you can get an idea about what works and what does not.

It is possible to simultaneously run different combinations of content on your site—with different visitors seeing different images, headings and body text. Using this approach, called multivariate testing, you can use your website usage data to tell you which content elements are most popular.

The types of products that can help you with this kind of testing include:

external linkGoogle Analytics  Content Experiments, a free website optimisation tool that is part of Google Analytics’ set of features. external linkTest&Target , a commercial website optimisation tool. external linkPersonyze , a commercial website personalisation tool.

Consider your website a work in progress, if you aim to keep your site fresh. Use of analytics data can improve your content and calls to action. Continual testing and modifying helps maintain currency. Over time, you can build knowledge to improve and target your activities to get the best results.

More than traffic

Be wary of using high traffic numbers as the only way you measure success. You will see many websites boasting large visitor rates, but that does not necessarily mean that they convert visitors to customers, donors or supporters.