There are millions of websites out there. Most of them were built more than three years ago and don’t play nicely with visitors. Many sites have been abandoned with no one to love and care for them. Others have owners but are limping along like wounded animals with broken links and photo’s that fail to show up. Be you tech savvy or tech challenged, it’s always good to be able to look at your website objectively.
We’ve put together a list of questions that will highlight some of the most common problems with business websites. We invite you to open your website and then go through the list of questions below. Take your time and write down your answers. You will be surprised how simple changes can increase your traffic and keep visitors on your site longer, which will translate into more business for you.
Let’s Play 20 Questions!
- Okay, I’m on my homepage, what do I do now?
Every homepage needs to pass the 5 second test. When a visitor arrives on your homepage, you should know exactly what they are going to do within the next 5 seconds. Whether that is reading an intro paragraph or clicking an enticing link to place an order. If you don’t know what they will do next, then how will your visitors?
- Do your buttons look like buttons?
A link to another page on your site is pointless unless it is obvious to your visitor that it is a link from the second they see it. Picture links need to pass the same test. Icons are a great way to add color and style to a website, but if it’s not completely obvious that it’s clickable, you are missing out on potentially interested visitors.
- Can they get to any point on my website with only 3 clicks?
There are countless ways to organize a website in terms of how people navigate it. But one rule that must always be followed is the rule of three clicks. If you can’t find the page you want to see by clicking three times or less, your visitors are getting frustrated, and frustrated visitors tend to go elsewhere.
- Do all my links work?
It sounds obvious, we know, but you would certainly be surprised how many links there are out there that lead to the middle of nowhere. Do yourself a favor and check all the links on your website to make sure they lead somewhere, preferably to the right place.
- Are my webpage layouts consistent?
When you move from page to page, do things move around? Are the navigation menus all in the same place, are the buttons all in the same order. Hopefully they are… because when things move around, people tend to get frustrated and leave.
- Is your website KISS compliant?
Keep It Simple Stupid… No we’re not calling you stupid, it’s just an expression. But seriously, if your website isn’t simple enough for an idiot to find his way around, then unfortunately, many people won’t be able to find their way around (sorry for being crude).
- Are you sending people away from your website on purpose?
Yes it’s true. Many people put links on their site, often right on the home page, that take visitors away, lost forever. Unless you are getting paid to send people to another site, this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. We understand there is value in linking certain websites to others from an SEO perspective, but to give up valuable page real estate for someone else’s benefit is simply a bad idea. If you feel that these links are important there are ways to minimize the downside.
- Does my message clearly communicate what I’m trying to sell?
The purposes of business websites can certainly vary. Some sites simply inform visitors about the company, others go a step further by promoting their products and services in a generic way, and some offer their products online. Whatever you think your message is, be sure that it matches what’s written on your website.
- Would I even fill out my own contact form? (Part I)
How intimidating is your contact form? How much information are you asking for? Now, how much of that information do you actually need, or even want for that matter? 99% of the time you won’t need your visitors’ address, city, state, sex, title, company, or even phone number. Obviously what you need is based on how you work and what you are most comfortable with, but the point is, don’t ask for information that you don’t absolutely need. Name, email, question, done.
- Would I even fill out my own contact form? (Part II)
Internet business is all about generating quality leads, and so we felt it was necessary to dwell on contact forms… Yes they are that important. If you feel you might know why your visitors have arrived at your contact form, and usually it’s because they are interested in your product, you may need to give them a little nudge to fill it out. Just a few checkboxes with specific products or services of interest can remind people why they are there and help them to elaborate on what they would have had to write otherwise. See the example on our contact page.
- Do I have one of those nifty little logos next to my URL in the address bar?
They’re called favicons (short for favorite icons) and they are an often overlooked feature of a website. First, take a look to see if you have one, now take a look in your browser history and you’ll see a variety of different colors and shapes. Favicons also usually show up on browser tabs if you use those as well as in your browser’s bookmarks menu. Unique and colorful favicons can help your visitors find you again if they’ve been distracted.
- Would I even fill out my own contact form? (Part III)
Ok, ok no more contact forms… as soon as you make sure that you always, always, always promise to keep your visitors information safe. If they can’t trust you to do that, then it’s probably a foregone conclusion that they will not be buying your product.
- Does my site look the same in all the major web browsers?
Most web designers will tell you that the least fun part of their job is testing a website in multiple browsers. It’s not so important that a website looks exactly the same in multiple browsers but they should all at least look good. Be sure to test your site in Internet Explorer 7 and 8, Safari, Chrome and Firefox, which will cover 90% of your visitors.
- Do I have to scroll to the right to see the entire page?
This is not necessarily a common occurrence, but is certainly a serious problem if you do need to scroll right. The standard size for websites is less than1024px wide (today’s standard for a monitor screen). If your website is wider than that, you need to get it fixed today!
- Do the pictures that say ‘click to enlarge’ actually enlarge when you click ’em?
If you don’t have pictures that say ‘click to enlarge’, consider whether any of the pictures on your site need to be viewed in detail. This is especially important on sites where you have physical products to be sold. If you do happen to have ‘click to enlarge’ pictures on your site, please, please make sure that they actually get bigger when you click on them. If a visitor is interested enough to click on it, they will surely be sorely disappointed if it doesn’t work.
- When I type my company’s name into a search engine do I come up first?
One of the most tell-tale signs that you need to consider search engine optimization (SEO), is when you type in your company name and you are NOT result #1. Below are the 3 major search engines used by 90% of your target audience.
Google Yahoo! Bing
- Do all my pictures and links have ‘Alt’ and ‘Title’ tags
This one is little more difficult to figure out, so we’ve included two examples below. The link below has a ‘title’ tag, when you point to it with your mouse it should read “This is a title tag.” The missing picture below that uses an ‘alt’ tag and should say “This is an alt tag.” These two practices are looked upon very favorably by the major search engines, especially if you utilize a lot of graphics in your website.
Point to me.
- Do the search engines have a search engine specific XML site map for my whole website?
If you don’t know the answer to this question, then the answer is most likely no, you don’t have a site map. This is not the same as a site map page on your site with links to all the pages, it is a different animal entirely used only by search engines. Basically, you need one.
- Do you know who’s coming to your site and what pages they’re looking at?
For those of you who said, “Yes”, good for you. Hopefully you are using that information to improve your business. For those of you who said “You can do that?” Yes you can, and it is a fantastic way to find out what is and what isn’t working on your site. For those of you who said “I’ve heard of people doing that before”, it’s time to take some action. If you are interested, we’ll even set it up for you for free. Click here.
- Would you call your website ‘finished’?
Sorry, but that was a trick question. The answer should always be no. A website in any form, is never perfect, because technology and people’s minds are always changing. Granted, you can’t always stay on top of those changes, but you are doing yourself and your company a disservice if you don’t even try.
Let us look over your website. We’ll give you an honest opinion about what can be done to improve your online presence.
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