Want your website to work harder for you and offer a better experience to your audience? This post is the first of seven posts with tips for getting your website in shape!
First impression of your website
Pull up your website on a device, and look at the first screen. Don't scroll or navigate anywhere - look at all the details of that first screen for a minute.
Try to see it as if you've never seen it before.
What's your first impression? Does it match what you want the first impression of your business to be? Is it readable and clear?
Does the vibe of your site match the vibe of your business?
Pro tip 1: Repeat this exercise on every device you have access to, so you can see what your visitors experience on each one.
Pro tip 2: If you have a pop-up, can you close it, especially on mobile?
Check your navigation
- First, use the header menu to go to each top-level page of your website
- Next, try the footer menu or any submenus you have on your pages.
- Look at your homepage for all the links to other parts of your website.
You are looking to see how people get around on your site. Is it easy to move from one page to the next?
Are there any orphan pages where you can't get back to the homepage? (Don't count landing pages that are not supposed to include navigation back to the hompage.)
Try to approach this as if you've never been to this website before.
Think about the questions you get asked most often or what people usually look for on your site. Are those things easy to find on your site?
Pro tip: repeat this exercise using every device you have access to.
Make sure everything works on mobile
As of March of 2021, Google ranks websites by the mobile version of their content. More than half of website traffic in the United States comes from mobile devices, according to Statista. On the websites I manage, the numbers are closer to 70%.
So let's pull up your website on your phone and take a look.
Use the navigation we looked at yesterday to navigate to each main page of your site - each page if you can, but start with the main ones if that's too many.
Go to each page, click each link and button. Make sure nothing goes off the screen, especially popups that block the rest of the website.
Look at the text size and the graphics to make sure everything is clear and readable.
Check to see if the links and buttons are far enough apart to hit the one you expect, not others by accident.
Test your forms or other interactive areas of your site by filling them out or doing the interaction.
If you have products, do a test order, or at least put something in your cart and go to the checkout page.
Pro tip: Try this on multiple mobile devices if you have access to them. If you can use different brands or models, that is best.
Check all the links on your website
If that's overwhelming to do by hand, use a link checker like deadlinkchecker.com
You're checking for two things:
1 - links that lead to nowhere, the dreaded 404 page not found error
The broken link checker tools will find these for you and report them back as errors. Then you have to go in and fix any broken links they find.
I found a broken link on my site, as you can see in the video. It's on one of my portfolio pages. One of my clients' websites (and her business) no longer exists because she has gone to work for another company rather than accepting clients in her own business. I had not updated that page yet.
2 - links that don't lead where you think they do
The broken link checker tools may not find these links.
These are the times that you (*ahem* or I) copied the wrong link. When you click the button or link, you arrive at a different page than I planned. Oops.
These links aren't broken, exactly, but they interfere with a good user experience, so it's good to check.
Pro tip: if you have WordPress and strict security plugin, you may have to disable it for the link checker tool to work! I had to disable Wordfence, my security plugin, while I ran the tool.
Audit your website content*
Performing a content audit of your website is a great way to make sure your message is clear, your information is up-to-date, and you are in a position to appear in relevant search results.
A big part of running a content audit is SEO (search engine optimization), which we will discuss in more detail later in another post. But, for today I'll just say that it is important to have a basic understanding of SEO best practices while auditing your website content.
If you don't already have one, I recommend creating a spreadsheet that contains all of the pages of your website with their URLs. This spreadsheet is essentially a site map, but in a format that allows you to track which pages you review and when, as well as different elements of each.
Here is a list of some things you can check for during your content audit:
- Do you see any spelling and grammar errors (pro tip: use Grammarly!)
- Have you changed your services/products and/or prices
- Have any of your team members changed?
- Does any of your contact information need to be updated?
- Are there new internal links that can be added to previous blog posts?
- Can you update your customer testimonials?
- Is your message clear to your audience?
- Does the tone of your content reflect your company properly?
Basically, you want to do whatever you can to regularly audit your website content to confirm it is easy to read, accurate, relevant, and helpful.
*Audit your website content tip is from Darcy Geho at https://digitaldarcy.com