Creating or maintaining a website can seem daunting. You can spend hours on the layout and design, but perhaps you are not getting the visitors you want or the visitors you do get are not achieving your goals.
The good news is that with a simple checklist you can evaluate your own website and come up with a plan, either for you to carry out or to give guidance to your website designer.
See how easily you can improve your website with these 10 easy steps.
- Does your site have a purpose?
- Is your message clear?
- Is your site navigation clear?
- Do you have a ‘call to action’
- Can you be trusted?
- Does your site work on mobile?
- Does your site load quickly?
- Is your site content up-to-date?
- Are you displaying any legally required content?
- Are you using Analytics and taking action on the results?
Does your site have a purpose?
Above all else, your website needs to exist for a reason. If this to drive business, how do you measure this?
Even though a new customer may contact you by phone rather than through your website, chances are they did at some point look at your website. This can make it difficult to judge if your website is adding value for money, so saying “The purpose of the website is to increase sales calls” is OK, but you would need to choose to measure this. The simplest way of accomplishing this is to ask your customers.
A companies website can also reduce calls by putting frequently asked information on your website. If this is a new addition you will need to let customers know they can access this information themselves, by using analytics you can measure how often customers use these self-serve resources.
Is your message clear?
Now you’ve decided on your goal, is that message front-and-centre on your site? Take a look at the words, pictures and layout to see if it guides the visitors eye to where you need them.
Check your text for consistency. For example, if you refer to your product as ‘cutting edge’ and that’s the keyword you want to focus on then use the same phrasing when you introduce the product or service, look at marketing experts like Apple and how consistent but minimal their use of language is.
Is your site navigation clear?
There are two types of visitors to your website. People and Robots. The robots are the search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo amongst the many.
Both groups are looking for two types of navigation. In-page, and cross-page.
Structuring the page content with clear headlines, visual breaks from large blocks of text, use of colour and shape to add structure.
This is what you would traditionally think of as a menu system. This is the categorisation of links and information as you see it. You may have separate pages for services and products, news and company information. It’s increasingly popular though to embed this information onto one page. Since the widespread adoption of smartphones, visitors are much more inclined to scroll down than click menu items.
If you have a page that just has a small amount of text, perhaps an image – consider merging it with another page.
Do you have a ‘call to action’
Now your site has its purpose, its time to tell that to your site visitor. Chances are they are looking at your site to learn something about your business (prices, services etc.) once they’ve seen this they’ll be faced with a choice:
- Close the website and do something else. Either because they’ve found what they need, or they havn’t !
- Decide to contact you
Make it easy to navigate through your website from Arrival, Discovery and then Action. Tell them exactly what you want them to do, be it ‘Get in touch’, ‘Ask us a question’, ‘Download a brochure’….absolutely anything you want them to do next.
If you don’t tell them, you’re relying on them figuring out what to do next. There’s a reason the ‘Buy now’ buttons are the largest and brightest buttons on Amazon.
Can you be trusted?
Especially for eCommerce it can be difficult to pry people away from the online shops they know and use like Amazon or even eBay. Showing verified customer reviews (often provided by a 3rd party which can charge for their services), Google business reviews which are free, or even embedding tweets and Facebook reviews add an air of authenticity.
If you include testimonials without any link to an authenticating party this is just text on the page, and while you may be honest, at some level people will be aware that these are probably the ‘best of’ and may even have been written by yourself.
I highly recommend having your website updated to be delivered by HTTPs, not only because Google includes this in their ranking of your site but from 2017 Google Chrome will display the words ‘Not secure’ next to your company name if you don’t!. Read more about how Google are labelling unencrypted sites as ‘Not secure‘.
Does your site work on mobile?
Perhaps your website was made by the ‘Big Yellow Book’ company or originally made over 3 years ago. Chances are your website may not look good on mobile devices. With an increasing majority of web browsing happening on tablets and phones this is essential to set the right impression. It is also a large factor to improve your search engine ranking (SEO).
If you find your website isn’t getting the number of views you would like, making this one change could revitalise your website.
Does your site load quickly?
Another factor both search engines and visitors like is if your website displays quickly. Its often said that if a user doesn’t get a response from a computer within 2 seconds the user tries something to fix it. After visiting your website from a list of search results, this is likely to be the back button!
You can test your site speed using the free tool from Google (https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/) note that a 100/100 score is perfection and is nearly impossible to achieve unless you have a very basic website.
The server where your website is hosted is likely to be the main cause of a slow website. Shared hosting like the entry packages on 123reg, 1&1 or GoDaddy are slower than dedicated servers, and even keeping your current website and moving to a new host can improve your page load times dramatically.
If you are using WordPress, limit the number of plugins and theme complexity will also help.
All images you display on your website must be optimised. Modern phone cameras create photos up to 10MB in size. Adding this to a website would slow down the browser and take a while to download. Even a large image on a website should be under 250KB (this is less than 5% of the size of a full phone image).
Resize your images to the size they will be displayed on your website. If you are not sure then aim for 1920 x 1080.
- Save photos as a JPG, quality setting between 60 and 70 should be plenty.
- Save logos or graphics as PNG.
- Optimise all images, this can be done either in WordPress with a plugin or on your computer (I recommend the free FileOptimizer) before uploading to your website
Is your content up-to-date?
Critical is is up-to-date content. Search engines have one job, show the visitor the content that’s most relevant to their request (so they visit again and can show adverts).
The best way to do this is to ensure your website is kept up-to-date with fresh, custom written content. This is also what visitors like, which is great!
Keeping the website up-to-date shows visitors that you are still in business and actively engaged. By adding content related to your business too it helps search engines recognise you as knowledgeable about a subject, and more likely to have content relevant to search results.
Are you displaying any legally required content?
If you’ve created a website yourself, for example Wix or Weebly, you may not be aware of the content you must display if you are a Limited company.
We’ve written a whole article on this, so head over and take a read of the minimum legal UK legal requirements for a website.
Are you using Analytics and taking action on the results?
Most websites systems provide you with a way to find information about how your website is performing. Common attributes you can see are:
- How many people visit your site
- For how long
- Where they roughly are
- Which content is the most popular
You can use this information to make changes to your site, we’re keen on making real data-based decisions and acting on this information. For example; if you see most people arrive at your website homepage but then close with out looking elsewhere, however the customers that land straight onto your shop section hang around – take a look at the homepage and see if you can add any shopping elements there. Of course it may be that on your homepage you have everything they need, but this comes down to website goals and using analytics to understand if you’re achieving them.