How to Perform a Basic Year End Website Audit
Another year has flown by and 2019 is almost here. After all the dust has settled from busy holiday shopping season – and then the party season – it will be time to get right back to business and as it is nearly the new year, this may be a great time to take a look at one of your most valuable assets as retail business, your website, and make sure that it really is as good as it can be.
To help you do just that we have compiled a list of some of the most important things you should review, making changes wherever necessary to help you get 2019 off to the best possible start.
One of the biggest keys to the success of any website is that it is accessible and easy for visitors to navigate and make use of. With that in mind, how are all of the following performing on your site?
Site Load Time
Never mind the fact that search engine bots favor a site that loads more quickly than others it is your customers that you really need to be worried about. As busy people they have no time to sit around and wait (and wait) for a site to load properly.
One easy way to check your site quickly and free of charge is to make use of the tools at Pingdom.com. Not only will it give you information about the speed of your site across various platforms and browsers but it will also show you where the bottlenecks are that are slowing your site down.
Text to Background Contrast
A dark gray font on a light gray background is very trendy but it is also very hard to read, especially if a user is browsing on a smaller screened device such as a smartphone. It may seem ‘boring’ from a ‘cutting edge design’ point of view but good old fashioned black text on a white background really does still work best most of the time in terms of accessibility and engagement.
Flash and Similar Plugins are Working and Load Quickly
No matter how good a Flash animation looks when it renders people are simply not going to wait around for that to happen. Slow to load plugins are annoying to the average web user and certainly an easy excuse to click away. Wherever possible stick to HTML/CSS, which search bots like better too anyway.
A company’s brand is a big deal, and your site needs to convey its essence pretty much at a glance:
Your Logo is Prominent
You took the time, and spent the money, to commission a great logo and so it should be one of the first things that a visitor to your site sees.
You Have an Effective Tagline
Along with a great logo, in order to create a great company brand you also need an effective tagline that is easily understood and easily spotted on your site as well. An effective tagline basically answers the question “What do you do?” Boil your unique value proposition down to a few words and avoid jargon at all costs.
Clear Paths to the ‘Boring Stuff’
When you were creating your website your ‘about us’ and ‘contact us’ pages may have been minor considerations because they are not really very exciting. But they are necessary as people – and search bots – look for them, often to assure themselves they are dealing with a real, reputable company. Make sure that these pages are easy to find within the basic site navigation and that the kind of information people will be looking for is actually there.
Once people have determined who you are and what you do and are happy they will want to get down to business of actually finding what they came looking for in the first place. Site architecture is actually a very broad subject, but here are some of the basics you should be checking:
Get Back to Basics
Your main site navigation menu should be clear, easy to use and pretty basic. Don’t use a fancy button that says “Communicate Online With Our Team” when “Contact Us” will do just fine and if you have two different navigation menus make it clear why they are there and why they are different.
And one more important thing. This may sound rather minor, but users expect that logos on pages will link to home-pages, and when if they do not, confusion follows. There are videos out there on YouTube of users clicking on a logo over and over, with no clue what to do next!
Your Site Search is Easy to Find and Actually Works
However comprehensive your site menu is, people in a hurry to find exactly what they want like a nice easy search button to help them do that. That means not only making sure that the search box is easy to find but that it actually works. We have encountered many, many sites that have a search that simply does not, and that is both frustrating and off-putting.
Do a Content Audit
You have heard it a million times by now, content is king, especially in terms of SEO. But is all of the content you have added over the past 12 months really up to scratch? Not only should you check for outdated content and minor spelling and grammar mistakes though. Are the URLs attached to each piece meaningful and useful?
URLs that contain a keyword are of the most help to search engines. You really do not have to re-engineer your entire website just to get new URLs, but you should do what you can to make them descriptive and user friendly from this point on if that is not the case right now.
Taking a few hours now – we are not going to pretend that it won’t take you that long because it will – to perform a simple audit of this kind might seem like one more thing to do that you don’t really need, especially with tax time coming up, but it will get your site off to a good start when 2019 does arrive and what could be bad about that?