When did you last check your website's performance? 5 Critical Checks
Are you 100% sure your website is working as it should be? When was the last time you sat at your website with a consumer's hat on?
Often, we spend time getting great content together for our website, spend days, weeks and months getting the design right - then it's over to the web developers to ensure everything is coded and made live to web.
If we're really prudent, we will already have done consumer and competitor research so that we're sure the site covers all bases. And those that are really savvy will have undertaken some usability testing (even very rudimentary testing using good old fashioned eyes and ears is better than nothing) with people totally unfamiliar with the site. (Sadly, the testing element is all too often left out of a site build - an element I would say, ignore at your peril).
The site is launched and that's pretty much it - sit back and put your feet up and expect great magic to happen. After all - it's got a fresh look and feel and a whole new suite of fresh content - job done.
It's rare in the world of marketing that 'one hit wonders' occur. Effective marketing (be it offline or online) is something that is continuous, intelligent - an ongoing learning process, forever optimising, tweaking and testing.
Given that nowadays a website is a key marketing resource for any business - then the same marketing principals apply - we need to be regularly watching and learning.
So here are my 5 checks to ensure your website doesn't let you down:
Interact with your website with fresh eyes. Consider yourself a newcomer to the site. Go through the site with a critical eye:
- Does all the content make sense?
- Does your homepage tell users very clearly and simply exactly what you do.
- Is it clear how users can contact you / buy your services?
- Is the site easy to navigate?
- What's your honest first impression?
- Does it take forever to load?
- What does it look like on a mobile?
If the site could be better - make notes. You may not be able to make all the changes quickly - but at least you are recording how you want to tweak and progress the site.
If you sell something online - make a purchase. Is it simple to buy from your site? Do all the messages you receive and signposting throughout the site make sense?
Check all your call to action processes are working smoothly. I say this because on one of our sites, a simple email responder wasn't redirecting correctly resulting in a number of new requests not getting through. (Reword that into lost business opportunity). All was working fine at launch - but a simple change we made a couple of weeks later clearly had an impact on a process that didn't get checked again. So be sure to regularly review that your processes are working and that the messaging makes sense. If I hadn't have been checking the site (which I do regularly) then this could have got missed and we may have missed weeks, months or years worth of enquiries.
Ask someone you trust to give you an honest opinion of their experience of using the site. Often when you are close to a site and service you use jargon that others may not understand. I've witnessed many a 'forehead slapping' moment by simply undertaking this exercise.
Understand what's happening on your site and a simple way to do this is embedding Google Analytics. research undertaken in October 2010 of 10,000 UK websites showed that over 40% of websites get zero, yes zero, traffic. If we consider the wise statement 'what you can measure you can manage' - then any website owner really needs to be aware of what's happening with their site.
Google Analytics is a free resource, but don't confuse free with being worthless. It's an incredible resource which provides insight into a wide range of valuable business information. You can see visits to your site, where they came from, how long they stayed on your site, where they exited, what they looked at, which keywords drove them to visit, whether they came from a mobile or web, which browser, which phone platform - and that's just the basics. If your site doesn't have Analytics installed - make it a priority to get this fixed. It's a must.
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@Michelle Carvill is owner and Marketing Director at Carvill Creative – the online marketing and visibility experts. A digital marketing and design agency based in Maidenhead, Berkshire. The agency covers all aspects of online visibility - covering social media marketing and social media training, user focused website planning and conversion focused website design.
For marketing and social media advice – view the Carvill Creative Blog