How’s your website look? You’ve been there recently, right? I know, you’re busy. You’re not always at your computer and besides, no one has said anything about your website not working. Why mess with something that’s not broken?
As part of my New Year’s checklist series, we’re looking at your website and giving it the love and attention it deserves but might not always get.
Give it once-over
Sit down, get comfortable. Pull out your laptop, tablet or phone and head over to your website. Scroll alllll the way to the bottom. What is your copyright year? You probably have that standard copyright on the bottom of your website. Make sure the year is right. Many sites are set up to automatically change the footer copyright when the year rolls over, but not always. If your copyright still says 2009 (when you created your website) visitors will be wary that anything else on your site is correct.
Is the information accurate? Read through every page, check every link, look for any dates that need updating. This is very tedious but so important, especially link checking. You checked that link on the last page, why do you need to check it on this page? Because mistakes happen. Website owners sometimes move or rename pages (even your own internal pages) causing broken links. Broken links frustrate visitors and irritate search engines. Both diminish your site’s usefulness. Click on every. single. link. (Including every link in every menu.)
Give it a deeper dive
Is the information current? Now that you’ve looked at your site from a surface perspective it’s time to dig deeper into your site. The most important thing for you to do is make sure your information is up to date.
You’ve read through all the text, so you know if anything is missing. Now is the time to fix that. Does your website note that you “opened 10 years ago” but it was actually 12 years? Update that. Are your staff bios correct and have all new hires been added? Have you checked for typos, missing descriptions, bad images, out of date information, address changes, bad email addresses… anything that has changed over the last year (or longer if you haven’t checked for some time)? Fix that all.
If you list products, make sure you’re highlighting the products that people are really purchasing, not what you think they should be purchasing. Are you showcasing services that aren’t so popular anymore? Change up your copy to reflect what you are doing now and what your clients want from you.
Remember websites are not about what you want, they’re about what your clients, customers or visitors want. Make sure you are providing the information they come to your site to find and that it is accurate.
What’s behind the curtain?
I’m not going to dig too much into the back end of your website, but you should reach out to your website developer to make sure everything is healthy, backed up and up to date. For many services, you may not have to worry about any of this (like Squarespace and Wix) as they take care of everything for you. For other services you might need to update things (like WordPress). Unless you feel comfortable doing this yourself, you should reach out to your website creator. Un-updated websites are an invitation to crashes, poor user experiences and hacking. And if you’re not backing up your site, stop everything you’re doing right now and figure out how to get that taken care of immediately.
Let me suggest one other thing: If you don’t manage your own site, consider contracting with a developer or host for an annual maintenance plan. They will make sure your site is running well, backed up and updated.
The care and feeding of your website
Websites are easy to ignore when they’re working. But when they’re not correct or updated, what does that tell your audience? (Hint: that you don’t care about the site.) And what does that tell your audience about what you think about them? (Hint: that you don’t care.) Put your client, customer or visitor first and go through your website today.