If return on investment (ROI) matters, you care; or at least you should care. The better question is, “Why should you care?” Consider some analogies. Why are blueprints helpful before construction of a new home or building? Why do engineers create schematics (electronic maps) for complicated circuit boards and integrated circuits before starting a new production line? Why do companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on Computer Aided Design (CAD) software programs and on professional drafts people?
The obvious answer is that thoughtful planning of anything other than the most routine of activities is cost effective, delivering better project outcomes. Manufacturing, construction, design and development are all relatively expensive compared to the affordability of planning tools. And if planning is ignored so that end products fail or underperform, lost revenue and spiralling cost might bankrupt an organization.
You should care about site mapping because it increases the likelihood that your new website is completed on time at the anticipated price, and that it performs to expectations. Beyond project outcome, site mapping and project planning tools offer opportunity for an early “go/no go” decision so that financial bleeding of failed projects/designs is avoided entirely.
Tangible justification beyond project success
Are there additional advantages in creating an effective website map? Yes, there are several. If vetting vendors, or estimating projects accurately or having clear responsibilities hold value, you’ll seek out a Web partner that is professional and experienced enough to provide a thoughtful site map up front. Let’s look more closely.
Cons of site mapping:
- Initial cost of activity
- Additional lead time of proposal
- Practice feedback required (Thinking about the site map is the hard and valuable work )
Pros of site mapping:
- Project Efficiencies:
- Shorter lead time
- More accurate price estimation
- Clear delegation of responsibilities (improved spirit of collaboration)
- Project Outcome (improved ROI)
- Improved branding (professional & organized)
- Improved Search Engine Optimization
- Improved user navigation (flow & consumption of content drives patient inquiries)
- Improved design (Cleaner, crisper designs are possible with less cluttered navigation)
- Improved navigation is required for complimentary mobile or responsive mobile sites
- Improved clarity around site features and site pages
- Project satisfaction (completeness) is documented and clear
- Future expandability is enhanced
- Web vendors are vetted by the ease and professionalism of site mapping
For simple website projects of 1-7 pages, site maps may not be necessary; just like planning tools outside of our own thoughts aren’t required to complete the simplest of activities. However successful elective healthcare websites with SEO, lead capture and ROI may run from 25 to 300 pages with the typical site at about 50 to 75 pages. Keeping all the titles, order and nuances of any website with more than 15 pages is nearly impossible without some organizational tools.
Adding it all up
In a future blog, we’ll detail specific techniques to organize website architectures effectively; but for now, let’s review the financial justification for site mapping itself. Regarding cost, the best web vendors will organize your new website for you in a site map as part of a project proposal. For them, it increases the chance of a successful project while establishing project boundaries. In extreme instances, vendors may charge as much as $1000 for a highly sophisticated sitemap (250 pages or more); but it’s vendors that don’t even acknowledge site mapping that should concern clients.
A thoughtful site map generally adds an extra 24 to 72 hours to a proposal. Direction, feedback and approval from the practice require 5-15 minutes of review and maybe an additional 15 minutes of clarification with the vendor.
So a site map may require up to $1000 (very unlikely), up to 30 minutes of practice time and up to 72 hours in proposal lead-time. Consider how often practices delay urgent website projects for years?
On the positive side, an elective healthcare practice can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars by investing $12K-$35k wisely with proven vendors, and properly planned and properly run website projects can take only two to four months while poorly run website projects might drag out for 6 months to a year or more.
A thoughtful site map with page names, sequence, hierarchy, features and copywriting responsibilities is the best way to assure financially successful website projects. The financial return for proper planning justifies (many times over) the cost: 2 days of proposal delay, 20 minutes of staff time and little if any consulting charges. Financially successful websites for elective healthcare practices are born from professionals’ insistence and expertise with site mapping. Questions….we’re here to help.
Brent Cavender is a co-founder of MetaMed Marketing. He heads up business development and marketing for MetaMed where he is the organization's chief practice educator and primary point of contact.