Perhaps it hasn't been shown any love in a while. Or perhaps you've actually shown your website a lot of love thank you very much, but you think it could be a lot better if only you knew how to fix it.
But it's all a bit hard, and you have plenty of other things fighting for your attention, so smartening up your website stays at the bottom of your to-do list.
Well you are not alone.
I have had "refresh website" on my to-do list for - ahem - over five months. I have spent hours and hours procrastinating by trying to find the "perfect" image for my home page. I even planned the changes I needed to make but paid projects came in and my poor website took a back seat to all the other work I had to do. (And as of writing this it still needs attention!)
The good news is that it doesn't have to take a lot of time to identify where your website is letting you down. And once you know what you could improve then you're on your way to fixing it!
So read on to get your head around some basic checks you can do this week to see whether your website needs more love.
What you need to do
Set aside 30 minutes this week when you can sit quietly and uninterrupted with a computer and a smartphone and work your way through this list.
Grab a friend or colleague and ask them to do it with you so you get another perspective. (Or even better, sit down with an enemy who would really love to tear you down with their honesty!)
Is it clear when a visitor lands on your home page exactly what it is that you do or sell?
It seems obvious, but unfortunately it is not uncommon to see sites that don't manage to convey exactly what it is that they do. And if people can't tell at a glance whether you are what they are looking for then you've lost them.
Is it easy to find your site?
You would think this one is a no-brainer, but I've seen plenty of businesses that don't make it easy for potential customers to find them online. Sometimes it's a website address that doesn't match the business name, other times it might be outdated information on directory listings or social media accounts that lead nowhere...
So how easy is it to find your website?
- Do you have a sensible web address, one that includes your business name/brand or something relevant to what you do?
- Do you have your website address on your social media sites, business cards, Yellow Pages listing, signage and vehicles?
- If a potential customer types your business name into Google does your business come up at the top (or at the very least near the top) of the results page?
- Do you have a Google My Business Account so you can have input into how Google represents your business online? If you are not sure, head to Google’s Business Page to see.
Is it easy to actually get in to your site?
Don’t put unnecessary barriers in the way of your visitors. Not everyone will have the patience to get past them.
- Can a visitor to your site go directly into your site? (So they don’t need to click to “Enter Site”, enter their Date of Birth or Country of Residence before getting to the good stuff).
Is it easy to read what’s on your site?
- Does the size of the text make it easy for most people to read?
- Is the text in a font that’s easy to read on a screen? Some fonts that work well when printed are more difficult to read on screen.
- If using more than one font do the fonts complement each other, not clash?
- Is the writing style clear and focused, not slow to get to the point and boring?
- Do you break up blocks of text with subheadings or images so your site visitor isn’t put off reading through to the end of a long piece?
Check out these examples. It would take somebody really interested in the subject matter (or writer) to plough through all those words.
How your website looks is arguably more important than the words - a website that is badly designed will put people off before they've even read your words.
- Is your website able to be easily read on a smartphone screen or tablet?
- Is the page layout free from clutter and unnecessary content? A good tip is to take a few steps back from your screen and see how it looks from a distance.
- Is the branding consistent throughout your site (i.e. each page looks like it belongs to the same website with the same colours and fonts used)?
Finding Specific Information
Is it easy to find what you are looking for on your site?
- Are your contact details easily found?
- Does the navigation structure make sense? Do the name of your pages and sections make sense?
- Has your website ever been proof-read? Has it been proof-read recently? Are you certain there are no spelling or obvious grammatical errors? Are your contact details easily found? This is critical! Some people won't care or even notice if your site has mistakes, but other people will, and whether consciously or not, they'll see basic errors as a lack of attention to detail or professionalism.
- Is the content up-to-date? For example are your staff details, location and opening hours still accurate?
- Does every single link on your site work?
- If you have any forms on your site, do they work? Is there a message once a form has been submitted to confirm that the form has been submitted?
- If you have a News or a Blog page is it being regularly updated? If you can’t find the time to update it, then it’s better to take the page down than have a “news” page that’s full of old news.
Having strong, relevant images can make the difference between a great website and a so-so one. What do your images say about your business?
- Do you use high-quality images?
- Do they look professional? You don’t need to use a professional photographer but they shouldn’t look like they’ve been taken by a complete novice.
- Have your image files been compressed for the web? Images that are too large can make it slow to load your page. And people may not stick around to wait for your page to load if it is too slow.
- If you use stock photography have you taken care that they look appropriate to your business and to your customers?
- Are your images named thoughtfully, descriptively and with good SEO in mind?
How did you get on?
None of us have perfect websites and there is always room to do better. What's important is to actually just keep on looking for ways to make it better and seek feedback. Good luck!