Does your website work? No really, does it work?
Over the last few weeks I have done a number of website reviews for clients and each time I have been shocked at the mistakes made by web designers or the things overlooked by developers. Things that you would think would be part of a pre launch checklist but are seemingly not.
The types of mistakes I am talking about are the types of mistakes that cost you and your website money or leads or conversions. So the point of this article is to ask the simple question, does your website work? Below are a few of the things you should check if you currently run a website or are having one built.
Title tags and Meta Description tags are things I love to write about, I could have a generic piece that I just copy and paste into each of my articles. The reason I go on so much about them is because they are so important.
These two tags display in the Search Engine Results Page and are two of the most important on page factors that help you rank for your keywords. But not just that, the title tag is visible to the user when they browse your website!
That’s why each page should have unique tags that describe what the page is about. I’ve talked about these tags before in other posts so feel free to read in more detail.
Cross Browser Compatibility
This is one of the biggest things that usually gets missed when a site goes live. Each browser has its own way to display the code of your website. The developer’s job is to make sure each browser displays the website in the same way (or very closely) however this is quite often over looked.
Internet Explorer is by far the most unpredictable browser. Nine times out ten there will be a compatibility issue with IE. Over the years several versions of IE have been released and each one has its own way of displaying websites. The discrepancies between versions means that the changes can be as small as a column being a little too long or as large as buttons missing, huge layout errors and so on.
The list of potential problems is huge. Each one could cost your website valuable conversions that you have worked so hard to achieve or potentially paid for if you're using PPC.
However, with the right tools it's very easy to check your website in the browsers. My personal favourite tool for testing IE, which is where the problems usually lie, is IETester. It's a completely free program and allows you to test all the versions of Internet Explorer in one place. I highly recommend downloading it straight away and go through your website. Click through your pages, fill in the contact form, try and purchase a product and so on. Spend some time navigating your website with all the different versions and see what looks out of place or doesn't work.
With a little time and patience you can spot errors in your site that previously went unnoticed and each one displays a website in a slightly different way thus causing major headaches for developers and potentially you if these issues haven’t been corrected.
These issues in the older versions of Internet Explorer (and in fairness, some other browsers) can leave your website with a slight alignment issue or a fundamental problem where the website is unusable.
How Easy Is The Website To Use
A website shouldn't make you think, if your site leaves you wondering how to do something then there is an issue somewhere. No where is this more true than eCommerce websites.
Get a friend who isn't technically minded to try and perform some actions on your website.
Can they find your contact details? Can they make a test order? Can they find a product? All are common tasks that visitors do every time they visit your website, but have you ever taken the time to see how easy they are to do?
If you find any of these tasks hard then you should look at correcting them. Analytics will be able to show you information on how long visitors are staying on your site, how many pages they visit and so on. With a bit of ingenuity you'll be able to see how visitors are finding your website to use.
It still shocks me that these things aren't considered and checked during the planning and building stages of websites but spotting and correcting them can make the world of difference to your website.
If you would like a professional to look at your website for not just these but all the potential search engine, usability and compatibility issues then get in touch!