When is the last time you really looked at your own website?
Every year we get health check-ups, eye exams, and tune-ups for our cars. Your website should be no different.
About once a year, you should give your website a good review. This can help prevent problems and find existing ones you may have missed.
Here is a checklist of things you should include in your annual website exam.
- Check all of your contact forms. Go ahead and use it to send yourself a message. Did you get it? You might be surprised how many times there is a problem with a website’s contact form that no one notices. If there is a problem, usually the form is working properly – but the email is getting hung in the server’s spam filter. Spam filters get updated. Just because an email isn’t in your junk folder doesn’t mean it isn’t getting hung on the server somewhere.
- Go to each page of your website and review carefully.
- Read the pages for errors or information that needs to be updated.
- Look for broken links.
- Look for any broken images.
- Look for pages that don’t seem right to you.
- Do a search for your domain name in Google (example: purplewidgets.com). Did your site show up? It not, there may be something wrong in your code preventing your site form being found.
- Review your site for appearance. Does it look okay? Could it use an update? Are there any graphics that look dated or fuzzy?
- How is your content quality? Do you have any new services to offer? Should you update your FAQs with a new question or two?
- How is your ease of use?
- Does the structure make sense? Do people have a hard time finding things on your site?
- Are the colors easy to read? For instance, white text on a black background will cause fatigue if read for too long.
- Is the type a good size for readability?
- Ask a friend to go to your website and silently watch them. You can learn a lot from the way other people interact with your site.
- Is your site mobile friendly? What happens if you view your web site on your mobile phone or iPad? Does everything still look good? Or do you need to make some items mobile-friendly? Over time new additions to the site may have shifted the design on mobile platforms.
- Are people finding your website? Think about the last time a customer commented on your website. Was it positive? Did they complain? How often do people mention your site? How often do you get communication from your website? These can all be indicators of how well your website is being found and received.
- How are your Google Analytics looking? If you don’t have Google Analytics set up, you should add it. You can track your visitors and gain valuable information about what they are doing and how often they visit. If you do have Google Analytics on your website, go run a report on it. Have hits been going up steadily, or is there a sharp drop somewhere? If so, think about what may have caused it. Causes might include an outage, new design, new domain name, etc.
- Look at your competitors for ideas. How do their sites look? Do you stand out? Or blend in? Or worse, look unprofessional? Reviewing your competitor’s website is a great way to get ideas. You may see they have a special form for orders, or a really nice team page you might want to implement yourself. You never want to copy someone else’s content or design. Not only is it tacky, but it can also hurt your search engine rankings. But you can use it to inspire you.
The technical stuff
- Think about your web hosting. Does your site go down a lot? Do you get hacked a lot? Do you have other problems? Do you dread calling your web guy because he or she makes you feel stupid or takes weeks to respond?
- How fast does your website load? It is less than a second? Or does it take forever? Today’s visitors are very impatient. If you make them wait too long, they will leave. You may have bloated files that need to be addressed.
- Have you optimized your database recently?
- Is your server in need of clean up? Do you have extra files laying around on your server taking up space and giving malicious code a place to hide?
Does your website have these items?
- FAQ page. The FAQ page is a highly visited page type. It allows you to answer the questions people ask you the most. It also gives you the chance to answer questions you wish they would ask you. And finally, you get a chance to answer the questions you wish they wouldn’t ask. It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s a good thing. You can really take your time and answer it well and without pressure. Plus, it gives you practice for when you get asked in person.
- A visible and clickable phone number. Mobile users will often tap a phone number to try to make a call. Make sure yours works!
- A contact page. Is it there? It is easy to find?
- Does your contact page have a web form? This is important for a couple of reasons.
- First, if you post your email address on your website you will get spammed. Period. Additionally, spammers will use your email address to spoof emails. These are emails that look like they are from you, but are not. This can lead to all kinds of problems and you might even get your email or website blacklisted, preventing you from using them.
- The second reason is that many people don’t have an email program (like Outlook or Mail) on their computer. If you don’t have a form these can’t email you easily.
- A blog. A good blog with updated information can encourage visitors to come back as well as rank your website higher.
- An up-to-date copyright. Your website should have a current copyright. An out-of-date copyright date can make viewers and search engines think you and your products are stale and out of date.
- Social Media Buttons. Are you using Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or other social media sites? If you are, you should add their logos to your Web site.
- Telephone Number. Make sure your telephone number is easy to find on your Web site. Customers want to know they can call you if they need to.