It’s that time: the annual, year-end review of your website
It’s that time of the year. The almost end of it. A time to slow things down, and review the past year – the good and the bad, the pretty and the ugly, the ups and downs and everything all ‘round – so that you can start the new year with clarity.
In other words, it’s a great time to take a good look at your website and see what you can do to make it an even better website that helps you grow your business. And if you still don’t have a website, then it’s a good time to think about what you need to do to get started on one soon.
Even if you love your site, there are always things can change or fine-tune. It’s always a work in progress. Much like your house or your car, you want to take good care of it so that it not only lasts a good, long time, but that it treats you well.
Alright. With that said,
Let’s look at your current site:
I’m going to keep this simple. Because you’ve got a lot of things to do. I’m giving you just five things to do. So here goes!
- Stare at your website for a nice, long time. Browse the pages. And jot down what you like, what you don’t like. Don’t think too hard about this. Just jot down whatever comes to mind. Write down 10 things. Or more. Or time yourself: take 10 minutes to go through your pages and jot down as many things that come to mind as you can.
- Repeat #1 from the perspective of your ideal customer. This actually requires more thought because you have to imagine being one of your customers. Once you really feel that you’re looking at the site from their perspective, ask, What works? What doesn’t? Is it clear what this business does and what it offers? Can you find what you’r looking for easily?
- Look at your stats. Login to your Google Analytics and look at your bounce rate, the pages that people are spending the most time on, and where they’re spending the least amount of time. If you set up any conversion goals, look at those, as well.
- Is your site secure? Is there a padlock in the URL? If not, make a note of this in bold, red ink. This is a very important part of your site and that padlock needs to be there.
- Is your site loading quickly? and is it responsive? Site load time is critical. You might notice that some pages are loading faster than others. And you might also notice that some images are taking forever to show up. And if things aren’t showing up at all, well, I’m sure you’ll take note of that!
How did you do?
No matter what you noticed or discovered during this review, I’m glad that you took the time to do it. So pat yourself on the back. This is important work!
What you can do to improve things:
You’ve just done the hardest work – reviewing your site. Now that you have the information you need, keep going.
- If you don’t like your site, there’s a good chance others don’t. It’s not the end of the world. But remember, if you can’t point to your site with confidence, without hesitation and without making excuses, you need to make some changes. So now’s a good time to think about making your navigation simpler, or getting better pictures, or rewriting the copy on some pages so that it speaks more effectively to your customers.
- From the perspective of your ideal customers, after looking over your site, would you be impressed? Would you buy from this company? Hire them to do an important job? Why or why not? Things you can focus on changing: images that show how you work, great product shots, benefits-oriented descriptions and ease of navigation.
- When looking at your Analytics, it’s important to understand what you’re looking at and how to understand the data. Now, that would take a full-fledged course to explain. But for simplicity’s sake, I’m going to say that if your bounce rate is high and people are only spending a few seconds on the home page, maybe a few on another page, you need some change. You really want to keep people on your site for as long as you possibly can. A lot of the answers are in making the important changes from #1 and #2 in the list above.
- If your site isn’t secure with a padlock by now, secure it. Many website hosting companies offer really good FREE SSL certificates. Get one already! Google is starting to penalize sites that don’t have the padlock on. And many visitors – like me! – will NOT buy from you if you don’t have that security on your site.
- Finally, if your site isn’t loading quickly, you need to speed it up. Contact your web host and your site’s theme developer or your website designer and find out how you can change that. Your site might be on a server with other sites that are hogging up space and bandwidth, which is a headache. You might have some huge image files that are slow to load. Get to the heart of the matter and fix it right away. No one likes a slow site and it’s a common reasons for visitors to just bounce.
Giving your website an annual, year-end review is one of the best practices you can undertake for both your site and your business. Your business website is very much another important member of your team, so you need to treat it well!
It’s also a good idea to review your site on a regular basis. I think at least a quarterly review is a good idea. If you’re not familiar with Google Analytics, then start logging in more frequently and look at the various statistics it measures. Once you understand the most basic data, you’ll start to view your website differently. Understand what people are doing on your site can give you huge insights and help toward creating content and making adjustments that help you in the long run.
I hope this past year was a good one for you. And that next year will be even better!
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. Receive a copy of my free mini-workbook, "10 Ways You Can Create a Website that Attracts and Converts," as well as industry news, writing and design tips, website advice & inspiration, and occasional special offers when you become a subscriber to my monthly newsletter.