What are your methods to understand the task the visitors to your web site want to solve? Surveys? Interviews? What questions do you ask? Simple asking them about their main reason for visiting the web site or is there any more clever and in depth questions and methods you use?
I am not a big fan of surveys since they just annoy me and I dislike it when some popup comes in my face and asks if I want to take survey in the end.Further more online surveys have not been shown to be too successful as demonstrated by this paper
The response rate for surveys is given in the screenshot
In my opinion the most effective way would be to use analytics to determine what keywords users used to get to your site.This coupled with information about how much time users spend on your site and the bounce rate will give you an idea about how useful users find the content on your site.You can also use aspects such as conversion rates (if you have an eCommerce site) to determine where users are dropping off.Once you have this information about your users and the background and what drove them into the site,you can use methods like user interviews and hierarchical task analysis methods to determine how users go about their task.
Another option is to use click maps (or heatmaps) to determine where the focus of your users is on the site and compare that with the vision of your site.
One way is simply ask visitors to the site to conduct a recorded "Video-in-Video" of them while they interact with the site (what they see, hear and do on screen, simultaneous with who they are, where they are, and what they say).
A number of platforms provide some type of qualitative user experience recording; some only record the screen + audio, some only the webcam view of the participants, and some do both simultaneously.