Now that March is almost over and April is on its way, most of us are gearing down from the winter and gearing up for the summer. One item that almost always gets left off of the to-do list is your website and reviewing it.
So many times, our websites were the first thing that we did and after a short time, we moved on to working with our customers and pretty much forgot about the website. After all, we spent good money on getting it set up when we opened business, so we take the Ron Popeil mantra of “Set it and Forget it” and turn that into “Create it and Forget it.”
The problem is that, like any of our marketing materials, after a while a website begins to look stale. I know because I have that exact problem. I had my website designed a few years ago and had a blog added to it about 9 months after the website went live. Since then, I have posted the blog fairly regularly but have done nothing with the rest of the website.
I recently took an honest look at the site and realized that while the site is the same, my client demographics are different. It’s time to redesign the website. If I had been reviewing my site on a regular basis, I would have realized this much sooner. Now my question is, “How many customers have I turned off because of my website?”
Here are my quarterly website review tasks that I have added to my calendar:
1.) Check all the links on the website. One of the most frustrating things for any user is to run into a link that is bad. This is especially true if the name of the website isn’t obvious which means there isn’t an easy way to find the site.
Broken links are not unusual. People change the platforms their website operates on, the hosting companies they are using or other internet issues arise. Be sure to check all your links. Those in your headers, footers, sidebars, and in your content.
2.) Test your drop down menus. This will make sure that your navigation for your website is going to work correctly and that all the tabs you have on your site are in place. Make sure you cover any and all menus.
3.) Send yourself an email. If you have any type of contact form (reservation request, support request, information request) make sure you fill it out completely to ensure that it is working properly. Even more important is making sure that the emails are being delivered to the correct address. Shortly after my website went live, I discovered that the emails were going to an incorrect address which meant that I wasn’t answering my customer’s call.
4.) Use all of your Social Media buttons. We all got on the bandwagon and added buttons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the entire myriad other Social Media sites out there, but the real question is, do they work? Does the Facebook button actually take you to your Facebook page?
5.) Look at each of your pages and decide if they are still representing who you are. Using myself as an example again, I recently found that some of my blog posts were actually returning “Page Not Found” (aka 404) errors.
6.) Check for technical errors. While your web designer should be doing this on a regular basis, it doesn’t hurt to have a second person checking. You will need to register your site with Google Webmaster Tool and then run the tests. While you may not understand everything the test is telling you, you will know if you need to get in touch with your web designer to correct maintenance issues. This is essential to your SEO efforts.
7.) If you also have a mobile site, you need to perform the same tasks there. While you are testing, pay close attention to how your site is operating. Does it require a lot of scrolling? Is it easy to read? Is it easy to navigate?
Now that you have reviewed your site for its functionality, made the changes you needed and corrected the errors you found, you are ready to check the rest of your marketing materials to make sure that they are doing their job.