Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Website maturity model

Some websites are hopeless, some are OK and some are great. How’s yours?

If you google "Maturity Models", you will see that there are many such models. At the top of my result page is the Capability Maturity Model (CMM) by Carnegie Mellon University. Further down is Gartner's IT infrastructure and operations maturity model. Not to be outdone by such small organizations, I have come up with my own maturity model for websites.


A maturity model can be viewed as a set of structured levels that describe how well the behaviors, practices and processes of an organization can reliably and sustainably produce required outcomes. For example, the five levels of the CMM are: initial, repeatable, defined, managed and optimizing.

While I do have 5 levels, my website maturity model is not as academically rigorous. Its purpose is simply to help website owners identify where they stand and how they could improve.

Level 1: No website

At the bottom of the model lies the organization without a website. Not all organizations need a website. For example, small convenience stores do not need a website, but most organizations do. Otherwise, customers looking for you will only find your competition.

Level 2: Handicapped website

This level could also be called “Profitability-challenged website” because the website is detrimental to the organization. It drives your customers away or it diminishes the value of your organization in their eyes. For example, if you rent apartments and website visitors think that you sell condos, they will leave within a few seconds. If you sell luxury goods and your website looks like a dollar store, they will leave.

Level 3: Minimal website

Websites at this level serve only the very basic needs of their visitors. Products and services are described in a generic fashion and the website content could be applicable to any of its competitors. Typically, this website has not been updated in years and exists only because the competition is doing it.

Level 4: OK website

An OK website will meet visitor expectations in terms of content and functionality and it will project the correct brand image. However, it is not designed to attract and convert visitors into customers. It will be profitable but to the extent that it could.

Level 5: Great website

Great websites have been optimized to attract many visitors and to convert them into customers. Investments were made in usability, web content creation, SEO and calls to action. The difference between OK and great websites lies at their profitability level. They generate more leads or sales and reduce costs. Overall, they help the organization stand out in the competitive environment.

Website Maturity Model

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