Edinburgh Web Development

Don't let your website bite you!

9 spot checks for your website

by Iain Wilson

16 August 2013

The point of most business websites is to promote the business in the best possible light, right?

So why do so many website owners let their site fall into varying states of disrepair? Things out of date, old prices, you name it, we see them all.  

And every error contributes to diminishing your visitor's experience and their view of your business.

Your website's not just for Christmas, is it?  You've got to look after it, keep it up to date and check it regularly.  

Here are a few spot checks you should be doing regularly - at least once a month.

1. Contact pages and forms

Number one offender.  Make sure the address and email details are correct.  Then, if you've got a contact form, send a test message.  Why, you ask?  Because things change.  For starters, here's just a few things that could happen:

  • The email server name could have changed.
  • You changed the password on the email account that sends the email
  • That expensive but brilliant new spam protection software you just bought is dumping the contact form messages in the deleted basket.
  • Your hosting company could have updated a version of software on the web server, and the program that takes the contact information and sends it to you has coding that is no longer catered for.

2. Prices

If you're telling people the pricing of your products on the website, keep the prices up to date.

If you give them a different price when they call you, what are they going to think about you?

Telling them, "Oh, the website is out of date" is not going to get you more business!

3. Dates

If you've got dates on webpages, like "This year's events", or "Summer deals"  and the dates are all 3 years ago, the message your visitors are getting will be clear.

And it's not a good message.

Similarly, don't have a news section if you can't keep it up to date.

4. Hours of business

There is nothing that will get under a customer's skin than checking your hours of business on the website only to find out when they've driven down to your place that you are 'Closed on Saturdays'. Grrrr.

5. Broken links

You will have links to pages on your site and maybe to pages on other sites. Page addresses can change, so you need to check that they are ok. 

You can do it manually, but there are also loads of free tools that will do it for you, like the W3C Link Checker.  

Check the links and fix the broken ones.

6. Web stats

If you've got access to webstats, keep an eye on them.  Something like Google Analytics has loads of information, enough to confuse a genius.

But if you focus on the key ones of visitor numbers, pageviews, time on site, bounces and search terms, you'll get a good picture of what is going on.

7. Search engine ranking

Got a good Google ranking for your important keyword phrases?  

If you have, you will want to keep it, so regularly make a Google search for the phrase and note where your site appears.  

Things change, especially in Search Engine Land, and if you're depending on rankings to deliver visitors, you must keep an eye on them.

8. Browser and handheld compatibility

Not such a big problem these days, as all the mainstream browsers become more and more standards compliant, but it's worth checking that your website looks ok on any new browser releases.  

It should be functional on recent versions of IE, Firefox, Chrome and Safari.

Also, check it on mobiles and tablets.

9. Database functionality

If you've paid for some fancy functionality, like a bespoke booking system or client area, make sure it is working by doing a regular test.  

Your hosting company might have just put the latest version of PHP, ASP or MySQL on the server to keep their clients at the cutting edge. But if something isn't supported that your software needs, it may no longer work.

Summary

Blindingly obvious?  

You bet, but do you honestly check all these things regularly?

Fifteen minutes every week or even every month, might save you a customer or gain you a new one.

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