SWOT-ting Your Website
Strengths. Weaknesses. Opportunities. Threats.
If you are from the business world, like myself, these are four words that can make or break a firm. They can find potential problems or create them if not used properly. Easily being one of the simplest tasks to do it can also be found as a difficult one if one doesn't know their business as well as they should. The SWOT is an analysis that can be a simple bulleted list or a thirty-page report.
- What are you good at?
- What are your downfalls?
- What gifts lie in your journey and what forces are there to take them away?
Questions like these are the essence of SWOT. The answers can be used to analyze but also create plans of action for many situations. Today, we're going to apply this conventional business tool to an unconventional subject - your website.
Before breaknig everything down, a little introduction is in store for those that are new to the process. A SWOT analysis, as it is commonly called, is a tool used by businesses worldwide to discover their internal strengths and weaknesses as well as external opportunities and threats, hence the name - SWOT. The analysis is usually performed when a firm compares themselves to their competition, or to find the effects of a new strategic choice or change of business enviornment. Note the words internal and external as they are the downfall of many a business student. Why thsi is will be touched upon later. Obviously, internal refers to the factors that are inside the entity and therefore refers to the factors that can be controlled. In turn, external refers to those factors and forces that are of an "enviornmental" nature and subsequently are ones that the entity has little or no control over.
Let's get down to the business. To clear up any confusion that might have been created, here's an example of what I hae been talking about:
- Strong brand recognition within niche.
- Uniqueness of brand name and other brand assets.
- Site is straightforward, minimalistic and content focused.
- Lack of advanced coding to develop new features.
- Stagnant brand growth outside niche over past 2 years.
- Content updated on a bi-weekly or longer basis.
- Collaborative projects with fellow designers and developers.
- Publishing of articles and writings outside home domain. (viz. DigitalWeb)
- Strategic partnerships and marketing opportunities with related portals.
- Inability to pay server costs with increased bandwidth.
- Redundancy of content compared to other related sites.
- Explosion of weblogs leading to oversaturation of the market.
By taking a look at the above table, one can easily see what the site's best and worst properties as well as some issues and events are happening in and around it. The more thinking and honesty that is put into this table, the better it can serve you. For instance, if you list 15 strengths and no weaknesses, you have a problem. This is likewise for any of the other catagories. Make sure you validate why the statement goes under the respective category and don't be afraid to be specific. Once we start putting this to work, it helps to have your colleauges take a look at the analysis as well, to give you some views that you might not have taken yourself. Alright, now to break all of this down.
When thinking of your site's strengths, take these questions into account:
- What advantages do you have?
- What do you do well?
- What relevant resources do you have access to?
- What do other people see as your strengths?
When thinking of your site's pitfalls, take these questions into account:
- What could you improve?
- What do you do badly?
- What should you avoid?