Friday, February 13, 2009

Your Website—Five Pillars of Peak Performance

Part 1 of 2

Top athletes know winning requires that they achieve their fitness goals in all five performance pillars: Cardio. Strength. Speed. Flexibility. Nutrition and rest.

Websites have peak performance pillars as well.

Your website’s got to be pumped in all five performance areas in order to deliver the results your business demands. This has never been more true than today where marketing activities and budgets are under careful scrutiny. Coach your website to top fitness in all five pillars to ensure it makes a winning contribution to your marketing mix.

  • Technical Design
  • Human Design
  • Branding
  • Strategy
  • ROI

1. Technical Design

Is your website technically fit? Does it present itself well to search engines? Does it achieve a higher Search Engine Results Page (SERP) ranking than your competition?

A one-stop fitness test for the technical aspects of your website is fast, easy and free. The HubSpot WebGrader tool will score your website on more than 50 different technical Search Engine Optimization (SEO) variables—including both on-page SEO (such as meta data tags, heading and image summaries and readability) and off-page (including domain age and expiration, permanent redirect, Google PageRank and last crawl, traffic rank, inbound links, blogs and more).

Hundreds of thousands of companies have used WebGrader to analyze their websites, so the comparison data is well grounded. WebGrader also suggests areas where improvements in technical areas may help your site score higher. It only takes a few moments to run.

Take a baseline now. Make improvements to your site. And run the tool often to check your progress. The best athletes always know who the real competition is, so check your competitors as well.

Search Engine Optimization is a huge and important topic. Getting it right is a work continually in progress. If you're interested in more detail on how search works, you might start by looking over my earlier blog, "SEO: 3 Simple Rules" for some additional suggestions.

2. Human Design

With all the attention paid to the technical aspects of optimizing websites for search engines, marketers sometimes forget the human connection that drives business.

Ask yourself, is your website designed for your audience? All your audiences? Each with their own particular reason for visiting?

While human design fitness testing is perhaps not as easy to quantify as technical design, designing for people is vitally important to both immediate results and long-term success. Peak fitness on this performance aspect calls for excellence in two key areas—content and usability.


Write and design your site for people first, not search engines. Deliver amazingly relevant content. Valuable information and useful tools. Deliver real value for your audience. Separate yourself from your competition. In other words, become a “Content Marketer.”

According to Junta42, self-described as the go-to site on such matters, Content Marketing is the practice of, “creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience—with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

Consider why your audience has gone to the internet to visit your site. Are they there to do business with you? To confirm your expertise? To see what your management team has to say or to download your annual report? To learn, research a purchase or discover new information and new things? To communicate and socialize? To be entertained? To buy? “Everyone Uses the Internet for a Reason” says Dosh Dosh.

Remember, marketing is not about going to the masses anymore. It’s about allowing each individual to find their niche. See how you connect.

Finally, ask if your content is updated often? Without fresh content your site’s fitness wanes. Give viewers a new reason to build or strengthen your brand relationship.


Make life easy for your audience. Test your website’s usability fitness by asking these questions.

  • Is your site structure clear? Is your navigation easy and consistent—throughout the entire site? Have you created a path for visitors to follow? Your visitors shouldn’t have to guess where they are, where they’ve been or where they’re going. Have you provided a site map?
  • Are your inside text links styled so that hyperlinks are clearly emphasized with an underline or other consistent visual cue?
  • Does every page include a text-based menu, frequently at the bottom, to supplement fancy Flash or Spry menu systems that can sometimes give visitors difficulty? Or make it impossible for those using text-only browsing?
  • Can your visitors get back to the home page easily, from the menu bar? From your logo? From every corner of your site?
  • Is a significant segment of your audience mobile? Have you designed your site to be mobile friendly?
  • Have you provided a search tool, one that keeps your visitors with you instead of dumping them into another site?
  • Do your landing pages clearly describe the benefits of what you offer? Are they optimized for action? Do they make it plain what you want your audience to do? Download a webinar or useful widget. Sign up for your newsletter or blog. Take advantage of a limited time offer. Buy…now.
  • Speaking of eCommerce, are your shopping carts optimized to close the sale?
  • Are feedback forms short? And do you avoid asking for unnecessary and off-putting information?
  • Have you supplied complete contact information including business phone number, e-mail address, postal address or PO Box? For multiple locations and offices?
  • Have you tested your site—actually tested it—with your customers and other key audiences? Can visitors quickly find what they need? Can they recover from navigation and other errors? Smart web marketers actually let their customers design their sites for them. Of course, this means continually testing. Do you?

How’s your website’s fitness so far? If your technical and human design are at their peak you’re doing well. But your overall fitness isn’t yet assured. Check back for Part 2 tomorrow as we discuss the remaining three pillars of peak website performance—Branding, Strategy and ROI.

Photos: (c)2008 Paul J. Hydzik ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Blog content: ©2009 Paul J. Hydzik. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


Paul Hydzik grows brand value. As a brand marketer and award-winning creative leader, Paul has more than 15 years of experience driving business success from start-ups to blue chips. His strategic resume covers all aspects of B2B and B2C branding from go-to-market to consumer insight to identity development and all forms of marketing communication.

1 comment:

  1. Really good advice Paul, look forward to reading further instalments. Thanks, Adam