Give your website a checkup. It will thank you.
Do you ever have that nagging feeling that your website isn’t quite working the way it should be?
But you’re not sure what it is that’s not quite right, or, you’re not even certain where to start. So you look at other sites you really like, maybe even sites of competitors, and you wonder, what are they getting that I’m not?
This is normal. And here’s something else: by putting your website through a basic checkup, can uncover where you’re not quite hitting the mark and how to fix things.
When I work with clients who already have a website and want a redesign, I usually put them through this process in the form of a questionnaire. The answers they provide tell me a lot about where they are, what they need their site to do, and what I need to do to help them relaunch their online business successfully.
Warning: Giving your site a check-up can sometimes be a difficult process. I understand that. Not just because site building and design is complex and requires a lot of work. But because it requires you to do a good deal of soul-searching, as well as questioning about the past and the future. In other words, because you’re dealing with issues that you care deeply about, you are confronting fear.
So I’ll give you a tip that I give to my clients. Before you start, do this: remind yourself why you went into business for yourself. And why you love your work. And how you know it matters to the people you serve. And how you don’t want to do anything else. Hold onto that thought.
Let’s give your site a simple checkup!
- Is what you do clear?
If people can’t tell what you do when they arrive at your home page, then it’s likely they will click away. Maybe an amazing picture will pull them in. But even then, at some point, and that point gets reached very quickly, if they can’t tell what it is you do, and it has nothing to do with them, they’ll leave.
- Is your core message clear? Is it clear what your purpose, your passion, your mission statement is? If you have a niche market, is it clear who that is?
A simple mission statement, a simple passion and purpose statement, a simple “Why I do what I do” statement, can really set you apart from the rest of the crowd. This can easily be the reason a visitor decides to stay on your site and browse all of your pages.
- Your site’s navigation: is it easy to find and well-organized? Easy to follow?
The navigation of your site should be easy to follow, logical, and easy to find. I know a lot of sites have those “sandwich” menus with the three or four horizontal lines. And those are cool! But if your intended audience isn’t into that, it may not be a good solution. And split navigation is tricky. If people can’t figure out where the sub-level pages are, or even know where to look for them, the result can be a frustrating experience.
- Your site’s copy: Is it nicely organized and broken up into headers with short paragraphs that are easy to read? And that explain succinctly what you offer and how you solve customers’ problems? Do you speak authentically to your customers? Is the copy typo-free?
Oh, the writing. In my opinion, this is still the most important part of an entire site. Sure, beautiful images are great as are pop-outs, sliders and animated effects. But in the end, your words are what tell people what you do, what you offer, and how you help them. Well-written descriptions are ultimately what give people that “I’ve got to have it now!” feeling and convince people to click that “Buy Now” button.
- The images on your site: Are they original, and relevant to your business? Are they optimized so that they load quickly? And do they display well?
Good photography can make a huge difference between a visitor and a customer. When you use good images, images that tell a story – that is, they reveal something important, interesting and informative about what you do – people will react. And when they see multiple images of a product that they’re considering buying, that helps, too.
- Is your site hospitable? Do your customers feel welcome when they arrive? Do they feel like it was written and designed for them?
This is where great writing and design fuse together. When everything is working, your customers will feel like they’re entering a familiar place, somewhere that was built just for them. Remember, your customers have problems. Maybe not life-threatening problems. But they are looking for solutions. When you present everything in a manner that speaks authentically to your intended audience, you will win them over.
- Is the design throughout consistent?
There are so many ways of designing a website. Endless possibilities, really! But when it comes to web design, I believe that consistency is important. If you’re going to put banner images on pages, you might want to do it on all pages. Use the same fonts throughout. Keep it simple, keep it uniform. Your customers aren’t stupid. But they do require that as they go through your site, they’re not unnecessarily surprised. Everything has to tie in to your general theme, style, aesthetic and most of all your core message.
- Have you created a strategy for each and every page on your site?
So, ask yourself: What do you want people to do on each page of your site? Sign up for your newsletter? Buy something? Contact you? That’s what I mean. And if you don’t really need them to do something on each page, then at least redirect them to another where more information they need awaits them.
- SEO: Have you filled all meta tags in your site? Have you written alt tags for all images? Written a good browser title description?
Search engines look for all sorts of things. I’m going to keep it simple here, but at the very least, have the name, title, description and keywords sections of your website complete and very descriptive. You know that two sentence description that appears under your business name in a search? Make sure you know what to write and where to put it. And write alt tags for all images that describe what they are because engines search for that, too. Every little detail makes a difference!
- Is your website responsive? Does it display and function correctly in all browsers and all devices?
About 75% of all people first view a site on a mobile device. Make sure your site appears the way you want and need it to appear on all devices. And browsers, too. Not all are equal! If your site doesn’t load quickly on a phone or table, and looks weird because the end user is viewing it on Bing and not Chrome, you could be losing some business because of that. Test your site everywhere before launching it!
Remember, your site is for your customers
You may have noticed that in the above checklist, I’ve asked you a lot of questions about how people experience your website. I believe strongly that your website isn’t for you, it’s for your customers. It maybe about you – what you do, what you offer, and how you help your customers – but it’s really for your customers. It has to be built and designed in ways that make it easy for your customers to get to know you and do business with you. They need you. But you need them, too, right? So always keep them in mind.
How did you do?
Now that you’ve put yourself through this process, how did you do?
If you think you need a little extra insight, let me know. I offer a FREE 30-minute consultation during which we can talk about your business, your website, and what’s concerning you the most about it. Just contact me at email@example.com, and I’ll send you a questionnaire to fill out. Once I’ve read your answers, we can schedule a time to talk and I’ll also give you recommendations specifically for your situation. No strings attached.
About the author
I’m a writer and a web designer. I create one-of-a-kind websites for small businesses and creative entrepreneurs. I help my clients expand their audiences, get more customers and make mo’ money. Please subscribe to my monthly newsletter for industry news, writing and design tips and special offers.