The Website Checklist

Before you plunge into a website assessment here’s a few things you might want to consider, it’s the sort of things I will be reviewing.

Note: Each bit can’t be taken in isolation as a website is a holistic thing – it is the way everything integrates together that makes it effective.

Your Starter for 10

  • Make sure it works! Visit every page and check there aren’t any gremlins.
  • Delete the distractions. Eye candy is good but too many features take the eyes away from the converting content. Only add something to the page if it adds value.
  • Don’t make me think. Ensure everything is plain and simple and the important details are on the page and right in front of me.
  • Spend time on your page titles. Still the prime source of information for the search engines so make sure each is unique and has the keywords in place. No need to include the company name.

Layout

  • Use the same layout throughout the site, nobody likes to discover the search box has moved or the navigation changes from page to page. Keep it consistent.
  • Keep the navigation simple: at the top or down the side and repeated in the footer. Don’t use dropdowns unless absolutely necessary.
  • Backgrounds are usually a distraction, a little bit of colour is fine but not any images, especially if repeated.
  • Make sure the information is presented in a logical order: logo, navigation, main header, content and footer.
  • Put your logo where people expect, that means top left. Make sure the logo is clickable and leads back to the home page.
  • Ensure you have a hierarchical site structure. Use folders so that all related material is collected together
  • Calls to action on every page please. Put them where the visitor will see them and include both parts: the offer and the action.
  • Important information should always be above the fold. This means making sure your visitors don’t have to scroll down to see your calls to action and key features.
  • If you are running adverts on the site, integrate them so they stand out but don’t obscure the bits the visitor really wants to read. And don’t use pop ups. Ever.

Content

  • Pretty sites make great eye candy but it’s the content that sells so make sure yours is well written, comprehensive and useful.
  • Break up your content using headings as it aids readability and helps the search engines.
  • No long sentences, no jargon, no txt spk and use proper grammar.
  • Run the copy through a spell checker and ask someone to do some proofreading.
  • Put your contact details on every page: phone number, email and address. This is good for those who need to get in contact and it helps to build trust.
  • Meta descriptions can make all the difference between someone clicking on your Google listing and the next site down so spend time writing these.
  • Include a tagline so that the poor soul who lands on an internal page can still work out who you are and what you do.

Usability and accessibility

  • Make sure the site works in all the major browsers including portable devices.
  • Check your forms to make sure they actually work and there is useful advice when a mistake is made.
  • Blue underlined links are still pretty effective so only opt for alternate styles if you really must.
  • Build a customised 404 page so if it does go awry your visitors won’t feel quite so lost.
  • Every link should have some descriptive anchor text, better for your visitors and better for the search engines. So don’t use ‘click here’.
  • All sorts of things can go wrong at checkout and it’s still the highest exit element of any website so make it well labelled, simple to use and allows the visitors to edit and check each stage. Try to buy something to make sure it works!
  • If you have a site search make sure it’s easy to find: put it up the top and again down the bottom (just like Google do).

Coding

  • External files where possible: JavaScript, CSS and even the document headers should all be in external files. It lowers bandwidth and speeds up page loads once the files are cached.
  • Text size: use ems or percentages. Don’t use pixels or points.
  • Obfuscate your email: blocks the phishers and spammers.
  • Optimise your images: lower the quality as much as possible and reduce the size as much as possible. Small files mean less bandwidth and faster loading pages (even with today’s fast connections.
  • Add alt text on all your images: good for screen readers and the search engines.
  • User-friendly URLs: meaningful, keyword-based URLs are generally good for both visitors and search engines.
  • Site load-time: Make sure it doesn’t hang waiting for some widget, script or image to load. Big trick to faster load times: send less data.

And that’s all you get for now. If I told you everything you wouldn’t need my services.

Want professional help?

Let me do the hard work for you and save you time (and money). Let me spend the hours poring over your site. For £297 you’ll get an easy to understand, comprehensive, action-filled report chock full of bespoke advice on how to improve your website and get more sales or leads. Just send me your details and I can get started:

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