Baseline vs. Benchmark: The Importance of Knowing Where Your Website Stands
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to a possible website redesign/rebuild, and the very basis of these considerations – the foundation of any and all decisions – is the question of whether or not what you currently have is working (if it’s providing the necessary access and information to your audiences) and, if it’s not, what you should be doing differently. In our 24+ years of building and revamping websites, these are always, without a doubt, the underlying concerns of our clients.
The question then, of course, becomes: “Well, what now?” and “Where do we begin?”
Developing a Baseline
You’ve identified the need for a new website, but that is only Step One. In fact, it’s more of a Step 0 as action has yet to be taken. Step One, the very first step in the rebuild process, should be developing a baseline for your website. After all, you need to know your current website’s standing before you can begin making decisions about how to improve it.
Conducting a Baseline Audit/Report will help you determine the current status of your website as-is. Using this data will help you make educated decisions moving forward. You may even be surprised at some of the results and how large of an impact they have on the future design and functionality of your website. But what all does this entail?
At Media Genesis, when we put together a Baseline Report on behalf of a client, we look at their traffic and analytics in order to determine where their users are coming from and how they behave on the site. What functionality do the users gravitate toward on a regular basis? Where on the site do users spend most of their time? It’s important to ask and answer key questions like these in order to obtain a strong, data-supported understanding of what exactly is taking place on the site. These can be strong indicators of areas that are working well and where improvements need to be made.
Keep in mind that this should go beyond basic Web Metrics 101 and really provide a strong, comprehensive understanding of your website (supported by analytics).
Once you have an understanding about how your website is performing, you’ll want to take a look at your competitors and related companies in and outside your industry in order to understand current trends and, more importantly, establish where your website ranks among your peers.
A baseline is all about your website while a benchmark is all about how you stack up against your competitors.
Analyzing the websites of your peers can help you determine what’s working (in terms of style and functionality), what isn’t, and how you can utilize these observations and strategies to strengthen your digital presence. For example, how readily available is contact information? How many calls-to-action appear on the site? Are the majority of competitor websites dated or sleek and new?
Knowing where your site lines up with the rest can help you put together appropriate design and functionality strategies moving forward. At the end of the day, you’ll always want your website to be more accessible, with better design and functionality elements than your competitors, but it’s also important to keep in mind that where these changes are implemented can have a lot of impact. The benchmarking process can help streamline these changes.
While developing baseline and benchmarking reports are certainly something you can do in-house, it can be very beneficial to have a third-party conduct this research on your behalf as they are less familiar with your site and can approach it from the perspective of a new user. If you are interested in conducting reports such as these on your site, or if you have any further questions about the process of website development, feel free to contact us at (248) 687-7888 or by email at inquiry@mediaG.com.