Optimize a site without conversion goals

1. Think about why you’re online in the first place to pinpoint your mission.

Ask yourself: Why did you create your website? What would you tell someone to get them to invest in your site? Answering these questions will help you move forward into choosing metrics, setting up reports, and optimizing based on insights. For example, a nonprofit website could exist to promote awareness of their cause to the wider world. Another way to pinpoint your mission and focus is to simply consider your mission statement. For example, Best Friends Animal Society exists to Save Them All, and they focus on donations. Best Friends Animal Society exists to “Save Them All,” and they focus on donations.

2. Use qualitative feedback like surveys and polls to find out why people come to your site.

Until you align what your site is doing with the actual reason people visit, you’re going to struggle. Surveys and polls asking users if something is missing or if they can’t find a bit of info is a popular way to infer this information.

3. Use your mission and visitor intent to identify metrics that you want to track.

For example, are you: Trying to increase support and action for your nonprofit? You could track donations. Trying to build a world-class communications organization? You could measure information consumption, like ebook downloads.

4. Systematically improve your user experience to measure positive changes.

This is one way to measure positive changes on a site when you can’t put a dollar value to your goals.

5. Use on-page widgets and comment boxes to collect attitudinal insights on changes.

In addition to behavioral metrics like click-through rates, search queries, and engagement, attitudinal insights can help you better understand user intent and develop better hypotheses. For example, you could add a Was this helpful? Yes/No widget and a comment box alongside tests to find out what kind of effect the changes have.

6. Optimize content for maximum real life impact.

7. Add Usabilla feedback forms to your content to track what visitors are actually consuming and at what rate.

Adding feedback forms at the bottom of content like informational posts helps you track quality over time quantitatively, as well as collect qualitative feedback and possibly even requests for more information. When combined with metrics like traffic and exit-rates, this feedback might tell a fuller story in terms of the value your content is providing visitors and what you need to focus on more.