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The iorg.com Newsletter - April 2004

Who Should Set Web Site Business Objectives?

The first question in setting explicit web site objectives is: who should be involved? Clearly, the process needs to include all the stakeholders who have an interest in the outcome. Even if you are the owner of only one of the business functions supported by your web site, you will benefit by knowing, and if necessary championing cooperation from all the business areas in setting business objectives for your web site.

Depending on the size and complexity of the web site, and the scope of the design project, the participants may represent the entire web site, or they may represent the organizations responsible for a specific web site destination. Large, complex web sites may need tiered sets of objectives: one set for the overall web site and a set for each of the major destinations and their respective business owners.

The main point to take away is that all the affected business stakeholders need to be included in the setting of the web site objectives. Casting the net too narrowly will cause problems later.

The following are some questions that will help you identify who should be involved in setting the business objectives for your web site.

Who is in charge of overall web strategy, direction and results?

Who are the members of your company’s web oversight or planning group?

Who is the executive sponsor for the web site?

Which business functions does your web site support, or could it support?
  • Extend or support marketing (allow customers to research details, benefits, compare models or brands, find stores, hours, directions, etc.)
  • Provide self-service account status information or account management capabilities
  • Provide self-service support (trouble shooting help, user instructions, updates, etc.)
  • Sell goods or services directly online (self-service sales)
  • Provide information to investors
  • Provide information to the press
  • Obtain feedback, suggestions, etc. from customers
  • Support corporate image (showcase corporate history and standing, community involvement and responsibility activities, industry development and leadership activities, etc.)
  • Provide brokering services (auction sites - e.g. eBay; public portal sites - e.g. Yahoo, Google; matchmaking, dating, class reunion sites; etc.) 
  • Provide independent information (news, library sites, research - e.g. Edmunds.com, Consumer Reports)
  • Provide entertainment for its own sake (gaming sites, network sites, movie sites, etc.)

What is the primary business reason for providing each function?
  • Save money
  • Increase revenue
  • Increase market size or share
  • Increase customer satisfaction or loyalty
  • As a public service

How do you measure the success of each function?

Which departments in your organization control or strongly influence the design and content of each function?


Construct a list of individuals based on the departments responsible for the business functions identified. In some cases you already may know the individual responsible. In others you may need to talk to the department executive. The important part is to be honest about what you know and what you assume. Otherwise you are likely to overlook important players in the process.

If you are interested in conducting this exercise on your site you can download our free self-assessment form that will help you document your answers in a structured format. This is particularly useful if you p  lan to have individuals from different departments answer the questions independently then compare the results.

Now that you have identified the business owners, how do you set business objectives for the site? The December newsletter, Balancing Multiple Visitor Objectives on Web Sites, and the January newsletter, Business Value: The touchstone of web site improvement, discuss different aspects of this topic.


Please feel free to forward this newsletter to a friend or colleague who might be interested.

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