Did You DIY Your Website? Do These 3 Easy Things Now
When you’re just starting out and your budget is tight (if it exists at all) using a platform like Squarespace or Wordpress to create your first website is a great way to save money. That being said, there is some extra work that will need to be done on your end to make sure that it’s the best DIY website it can be. Here are three easy things to do right now to improve your website:
1. Read it backwards: This may sound odd, but it’s one of the oldest proofreading tricks in the book — and it works! Have you ever driven home, turned the car off in the driveway and then thought — how did I get here? I wasn’t even paying attention! Our attention spans are getting shorter by the day and our minds are easily distracted, which leads to our brain doing the original version of predictive text. If you read your copy backwards, you force yourself to look at the spelling of each individual word and resist getting caught up in the flow of the sentence.
2. Why generic file names are duds: Did you know that giving your image information-rich file names can help with SEO? Well, it can, which is why every single image on your website should follow a specific naming convention. If you leave your images with a file name like “DSC0097” you’re not hurting your site, but if you’re an interior designer in Jersey and you name your file “Marlton-New-Jersey-Contemporary-Split-Level-Open-Floorplan-Kitchen.jpg” it will actually help with SEO because anyone searching for any of those words could find your image. Bonus: Make sure to use dashes instead of spaces of underscores between each word, this way each individual term is searchable (if you uses spaces or underscores, someone would need to search that exact phrase).
3. Be your own Beta tester: You wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive, so make sure that you run through all of the pages of your website before (and after) you go live. Beta testing covers aesthetics, functionality, and usability. Confused? How about this:
a. Aesthetics — AKA Does it look pretty?
Make sure you logo and any images featured are nice and crisp. No one wants to see pixels. Also, check the font size. If your grandmother would have to squint, it’s not big enough.
b. Functionality — AKA Does it work?
Websites that don’t work are annoying. If you think that missing information or broken links won’t cost you customers, you’re wrong. That being said, check all of these things on every page — including your header and footer:
Is all of the necessary info there (contact information, what you do or sell, areas of service, etc.)? And is everything grammatically correct (I’m looking at you/your/you’re over there/their/they’re!)?
Do all of the links and buttons work? This includes backlinks, links to other sites, your header and footer, social media buttons, you name it. If you can click it, do so, and make sure that it functions properly. Don’t just see that it’s loading and X-out, wait for the new page to load to confirm.
Do you have a contact form? Test that bad boy out! Make sure that you receive the info at the proper email address and make note of how long it takes (just because it’s nice to know).
Is your site responsive? AKA Does it adapt to fit the screen it’s being viewed on (mobile, tablet, desktop, etc.)? Even if this works, you may find that your site isn’t as attractive on mobile as it is on a desktop; see if you can’t move some things around to make it a bit more inviting for when it first loads.
Does your search work? I love a good search feature. Seriously, I’ve done the backend work on it, so I know how tedious it can be, but it is SO worth it to your user. Don’t just set it up properly, maintain it too and repeat customers will take notice.
E-commerce — If you sell stuff on your website, you owe it to your customers to complete the sales process. If you’re annoyed by how long it takes to check out, they will be too. Also, you may spot some ways to personalize the process and build additional rapport.
Load time — Slow loading websites are a total mood killer. According to Google, most sites lose half their visitors while loading. Here’s a link to check your score.
c. Usability — AKA What’s it feel like your first time?
When you’ve been working on your website for what probably seems like an eternity, it can be really challenging to view it like a new user. That being said, if you have a kind and patient friend or family member who is willing to test it out with you breathing down their neck to see how it goes, I would suggest you do that. Things you want to look out for:
Which way did he go, George? Where do they navigate to first? Is it where you intended for them to go? If not, how can you change that and send them in the desired direction?
Beyond the Fold — If your homepage has info past the fold (the part of the site you see when it first loads), do they scroll down? Or head straight to the menu bar? Once they get to the menu, are all of the important pages just a click away? Or will they find themselves saying, I knew I should’ve taken that left turn at Albuquerque?
Buttons and links — Are they obvious? Or does the user need to scroll over them in order to realize that there’s something to click on. Both should stand out from the rest of the text and buttons in particular should really jump off the page (not that they need to be blinking lights, but you get the picture).
These three things may not be quick, but they are definitely doable and totally worth it in the long run. Still sound like a lot to tackle on your own? Hire me to review your website! I’ll send you a full recap of all of the issues I find as well as any opportunities for improvement down the line. Click here to schedule an appointment.