Intention Counts

By James Ellis

A website can be and do just about anything. It can be a brochure, a greeting card, a catalog, a conversation space, an announcement, a research tool, a library, a photo gallery, a way to spark ideas, build connections, engage people and speak about your corner of the world.

But it can’t really do all those things (unless you are Google or maybe Facebook, in which case, “hi!”). It can do one or two of those things well. It can do three or four of those things well with an exponential increase in resources, but that’s it.

So instead of spending millions on a legion of developers, creative directors, content managers and the staff to populate their respective armies, maybe you should focus your intention down to one thing.

What is your website supposed to be or do? Boil it down to a phrase a five-year-old could understand.

Amazon was a bookstore. Now it is an everything store. Google is a search engine. Those are easy, mostly because they have smart marketers and leadership who knows that you need to excel at one thing before you expand to something else.

But what about the website for your favorite coffee shop? It could be a brochure: hours and location with a pic of a cute barista. It could be a branding peice: pictures and animations that are warm and inviting about the idea of coffee and scones. It could be a business development peice: Get you excited about the idea of hand-roasted select gourmet coffee and how it will make your life better. It could be a store: place your coffee order and schedule a pick-up time or delivery. It could be a research tool: Everything you could want to know about coffee from different regions of the world, how it should be roasted, what the types of roasting levels mean and how they affect taste.

One coffee shop, four intentions. Each intention shapes the nature of the website, who uses it and why. Intention therefore determines the site’s success

For example, will more people come to your coffee shop because they know more about all the different coffee varieties? If your goal is to sell more coffee, then maybe that intention doesn’t align with that objective. If you spend 3,000 words talking about thirty different coffee varieties, and you only sell two, what was the good in that? You may have just gotten them excited to go to another coffee shop.

Nailing down the intention of your site, especially in relation to your total marketing strategy and your business strategy, increases your likelihood of success. Now I’m going to go drink some coffee.

Author’s Bio: James Ellis is the Director of Digital Strategy at FLIRT Communications. His latest book, Google Analytics for Small Business is currently in beta. He’s giving away discounted copies if you are willing to help make it even better.

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