Websites are living, breathing organisms that need to be given regular check-ups. The New Year is the perfect time to give them a cleanse and detox, hone them them back into shape and trim away those split ends. Just imagine that scene from Miss Congeniality where Sandra Bullock goes from a tired, unpolished police officer to beauty queen. This year, your website deserves to look like Sandra Bullock.
We’ve come up with a helpful checklist to start you in the right direction. NB: These are guidelines rather than rules.
1. A sense of self: When users land on your homepage they can understand what your site is about within five seconds. It has been designed with your clients in mind.
2. Feng Shui: Is your home page clear and free of unnecessary clutter? Does the layout allow for clean space where your visitors can let their mouse run free and their mental space breathe? Along the clean lines of House Of Mutt:
3. Credible rep: Users don’t have too look far to feel satisfied by the credibility and trustworthiness of your site. Your copyright information is up-to-date. They can easily find privacy policies, T&Cs and spot any relevant security certificates.
4. Get in touch: Users can find your contact and location information with little fuss.
5. Intuitive navigation: Do your visitors feel as if they are lost in a maze replete with wormholes and unexpected dead ends? It should take a minimal amount of effort for them to navigate easily to the pages they want to go to, with helpful tools like a homepage button, breadcrumb trail and sitemap to guide them if they get lost.
6. Consistency: Your site doesn’t have to be irrationally uniform but there should be consistency from page to page, from branding through to button location.
7. Vibrant photography: Does your photography translate your brand and help the site achieve it’s purpose in a way that is evocative, high quality and not full of those awful stock photos of people looking manically cheerful? Take the Cliff House Hotel for example.
8. Clear copy: Your site’s text is a clear, easy to read web font that works across all browsers.
9. Push the button: If your visitors have to search to find your ‘book’ button your site has serious issues. Call to action buttons should be clear and eye-catching.
10. On the move: Your website should at worst be mobile friendly and at best responsive (adaptable to different screen sizes). Go and have a play on our site Freesat:
11. Site load time: This should be reasonable. Somewhere between the time it takes to blink and do a full-blown sneeze. This Google tool might help.
12. Up-to-date: Don’t go overboard and start clearing out old blog posts and news stories. These feed into the SEO link-building machine your site has become. However, if your information is a little dusty and rusty on your key landing pages then it’s time for an update. Keep it simple.
13. Revive your blog: Are tumble weeds running across the wasteland that was once your blog? Plan a blog calender and set some deadlines to get momentum going again.
14. Optimised: Step 1: Have you revisited and revised your SEO keywords? Step 2: Have you put your keywords to use in headers, title tags, metatext etc? And have you linked posts to each other within your own site or out to other sites where useful?
15. URLs: Your site follows a clear URL structure and all of your pages have relevant, complete URLs. Don’t forget if you’ve changed/updated any you’ll need to set up re-directs for the old URLs.
16. Refined forms: No one likes filling out forms and if they do, they’re weird. Make sure your forms are as simple and concise as possible with clearly named fields, short drop-down menus and helpful error messages if they have made a mistake.
17. Sharing is caring: Your social media buttons and sharing icons are easy to find and yet remain understated. You don’t want to look desperate now.
18. Tracking: Are Google Analytics, Google Webmaster tools and/or a different reporting tool of your choice set up for your site? Are you tracking user journeys and conversions AND reacting strategically to the feedback?
19. Cookie disclaimer: Is your cookie audit up-to-date and do you require new visitors to accept the policy?
20. 404 message: If a visitor lands on a page that doesn’t exist is there a nice 404 page waiting to catch them and gently navigate them back to something useful. We’re not bragging, but something like this.