What is a gap analysis for a business website?
Over time, our business and website goals tend to diverge in unexpected ways. Let's pause for a moment, analyze, and fix the gap between them.
by Cesare Ferrari on July 09, 2023
As entrepreneurs, we have goals and objectives for our business, and one of the primary ways to support them is through our website.
Common goals of a business website are:
- building brand awareness and credibility
- generate leads
- directly sell goods to customers
No matter what our website goals are, they must be aligned with, and support, our overall business goals.
We may find, though, that over time our business and website goals tend to diverge in unexpected ways. As we grow our business we may change our primary focus, or we may update business objectives to better reflect our mission. This may not be immediately reflected in our website.
Another reason for misalignment may be that our website was originally set up through a generic "business site" template. We were busy launching our business and didn't have time to go deep into building a customized website structure that would fully reflect our desired business objectives. Now this structure doesn't fit anymore, and may even be detrimental to our brand image.
When this happens, we must pause for a moment and analyze the gap between business goals and website goals.
The gap analysis
A gap analysis is the process of identifying the discrepancies, or gaps, between the current state of a website, and the affinity to the business objectives we assigned to it when we first launched.
During a gap analysis, we first set benchmarks for our website, and then compare the actual website against them. We then identify the discrepancies and we rank them in order of importance, so we know what to fix first.
A gap analysis has six main steps:
1. Defining objectives
In this step we establish the desired goals of the website. These vary from business to business. For one business it could be increased traffic. For another, higher search engine rankings and improved conversion rate. No matter what goals we have for our website, they should be aligned with the overall business goals.
2. Evaluating current performance
The second step is to evaluate the existing state of the website. We want to come up with a list of current goals that are implemented in our website so we can compare this list with the desired goals defined in the previous step.
3. Identifying gaps
If we followed the above steps, we now have two sets of objectives: the desired objectives and the actual objectives implemented by the website.
We are now ready to identify any gaps between these two sets by comparing them. Gaps can include: mismatched objectives, ineffective SEO strategies, technical issues, outdated content, or other deficiencies.
4. Prioritizing issues
Once we know what needs to be fixed, we don't just pick them at random, but we first should sort issues by order of importance. This is because some issue will have a large impact our our business, while others may just be marginal issues. We must fix the most important issues first.
A broken shopping cart affects our bottom line much more than a slow loading home page, for example.
5. Action plan
Now that we know what to fix, and in what order, we can start planning how to bridge the gaps.
For each issue, we outline the specific steps to take in order to fix it, the resources we need to allocate, the necessary timeline, and how to measure progress.
6. Implementing changes
Based on our action plan we can finally go to work, and tackle our issues one by one, starting from the most important ones.
We must be aware that once we fix an issue, we need to reassess the effectiveness of our implementation on the overall website. A website is a complex system, and we may find that fixing one issue can affect the overall site in unexpected ways. That's why we must move carefully and adjust our implementation as we go.
As we have seen in this article, the purpose of conducting a gap analysis is to bridge the divide between the current state of our website and the desired objectives.
It allows us to identify areas for improvement, align the website with the business goals, enhance user experience, optimize performance, and ultimately drive better results in terms of conversions and ROI.
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