Sizing up success - how to set winning KPIs for your next website project.

First place ribbon being pinned on dog

Website Planning Guide #3

Once your website is up and running, you might think that things are done and dusted. Time to put your feet up and reap the applause and gratitude of your colleagues and customers. Hang on, what’s that deathly silence?

It was a nice thought, while it lasted. Sadly, the next adventure is never far away as a business leader and in this case, that adventure is likely to be performance measurement. Surely its existence is performance enough? It’s there, customers can use it and it looks pretty. What more could there be to it?

A fair amount, actually. There are countless ways to measure the success of a site. So many things that could make the difference to your bottom line. Thankfully it’s nowhere near as tricky as it may seem. Tools like Google Analytics and HotJar are a blessing for leaders who consider key performance indicators (KPIs) after the fact. But, have you ever thought about incorporating KPIs into your next website, before it gets built? It can make a real difference to the performance of your website and turn it into an asset for your organisation from the very beginning.


You have KPIs for all sorts of things; I need not teach you to suck eggs here. You know them inside out I’m sure; be them sales, customer satisfaction, footfall, they will be the foundations on which your business is built. Have you thought about how these translate into the way you measure your website’s success? How can you work out if your site is driving sales, or is easy to use? Are people finding you on search engines? A good website will be able to show you these things, so you can point them back to the metrics that matter to you. Don’t get distracted by vanity metrics. Your performance numbers must mean something, so this process is worth getting right.

The best advice I can give is to think SMART. No doubt you’ve come across this helpful little acronym in your time. This is essential for web measurement. Your KPIs need to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely so that they make sense to you and your business. It’s also worth ensuring you cover what I call the ‘basics’; those metrics which are essential for all websites, whatever the industry, and pertain specifically to the performance of the site itself. Without these in place; metrics like conversion or signups are likely to suffer.

  • Time on site – the amount of time a user actually spends on your website reading your stuff
  • Bounce rate – the percentage of visitors who enter your site and then leave, rather than continuing to view other pages.
  • Repeat visitors – the number of times someone engages with your brand through your website
  • Social likes and shares – this is a good guide to which content is resonating most with your audience.

There’s a lot more to consider, and it’s worth getting good advice and the right people around the table to decide on what matters. Connecting the dots between your growth or profitability and the way your website performs is a science, and what works for one company, might not work for the next. Databox has written a stellar article that discusses using and understanding website metrics in ways that better support Marketers like you:

If you build it, they might not come

One of the biggest errors I see on many B2B websites today is that they forget who’s actually using their website when telling the story of their business. Your organisation does not exist to talk about itself, it exists to deliver a need, to answer a problem, and to solve a headache for your customers. “If you build it, they will come”. This line might have worked for Kevin Costner, but it is not going to work for your next website project. Well, not if you don’t make your customers your primary objective.

Your customers are going to be on your website looking for answers. Build your customers into your next website KPIs and make sure you hold your agency accountable for helping you do this.

One last thing

Oh, and don’t forget the performance of the project itself. Metrics are just as important here to ensure that you, your agency, and your stakeholders know exactly what’s expected and what’s going to be delivered. Too many times have I seen scope creep, or gate reviews going horribly wrong because these parameters weren’t agreed sufficiently upfront. Again, find an agency that gets this, one that understands project management and the best style to suit your business. The chemistry between agency and client is essential; making sure working styles match, that values align and that expectations are compatible.

In the end, all of this work is going to save you a lot of time and keep you delighting your customers, and of course your boss. Maybe then you might actually get to put your feet up for five minutes.

If you would like any support or advice around creating KPIs for your next website, give me a call. For starters, I’ve got a handy set of potential website KPIs I can share with you.

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