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The definitive business website checklist

  1. Business website checklist

    fisicx It's Major Clanger! Staff Member

    Posts: 25,699 Likes: 7,610
    6 |

    Getting your hands on a shiny new website is exciting. There are lots of toys to play with and all sorts of features to discover, which can be great fun!

    But, even the shiniest of sites needs checking to make sure it’s performing correctly for your audience. So, before you launch and tell the world all about your products or services, take some time to make sure it's as good as it should be with these checklist from WordPress expert Graham Smith.

    How to approach testing a new website

    It’s important to follow a routine for website testing that will ensure you understand all of the ways users will engage with the content.

    • Test everything and do it on your phone. Then check with a tablet and lastly in a desktop. More people use mobile devices to browse the internet than they do a desktop, so make sure it's working properly on a phone before anything else
    • Get a stranger to test the site, they will be more critical than your friends and family
    • Visit every page and check there aren’t any gremlins.
    • Delete the distractions. Get rid of anything that distracts your visitor from picking up the phone or buying your stuff. This includes removing a link to your Facebook page (you want people to come from Facebook to your site not the other way round)
    • Finally, don’t make me think. Ensure everything is plain and simple and the important details are on the page right in front of the visitor on every page. I should be able to glance at any page and within a few moment know exactly what's on offer

    Improving your business website layout

    It’s important to remember that prospective customers could land on any page of your website; contact details and call to actions need to be clearly identified, and you need to make it easy for users to take action – here’s how.

    • Use the same layout throughout the site, nobody likes to discover the search box has moved or the navigation changes from page to page - keep it consistent
    • Keep the navigation simple: use the minimum number of links and don't hide them away on small screens. Don’t use dropdowns unless absolutely necessary
    • Hero images (a large banner image at the top of a web page) are usually a distraction, they are popular, but aren't very effective. Sliders are even worse. So get rid of them and replace with static content that sells your business
    • Put your business name and a tagline in the header so that the poor soul who lands on an internal page can still work out who you are and what you do. Don't rely on just a logo. In fact question if you even need a logo
    • It’s important to put calls to action on every page of your site. Put them where the visitor will see them and include both parts: the offer and the action
    • Important information should always be above the fold. This means making sure your visitors don’t have to scroll down to see your calls to action and key features. This is especially important on small screens, and is why hero images and sliders are largely ineffective
    • Put your contact details on every page: phone number, email and address. This is good for those who need to get in contact and it helps to build trust
    • If you are running promotions on the site, integrate them so they stand out, but don’t obscure the bits the visitor really wants to read. And, don’t use pop ups. Ever. Especially as Google will soon penalise you for blocking access

    Content that will help boost business

    Pretty sites make great eye candy, but it’s the content that sells, so make sure yours is well written, comprehensive and useful.

    • Include lists, images and other aids to help direct people to the right place
    • Break up your content using headings as it aids readability and can help boost SEO
    • No long sentences, no jargon, no ‘txt spk’ and use proper grammar
    • Make sure the content is appropriate for your visitors
    • Include inline links to related content, so visitors don't have to keep going back the main navigation to move around the site
    • Run the copy through a spell checker and ask someone to do some proofreading
    • Spend time on your page titles. Still the prime source of information for the search engines, so make sure each is unique and has the keywords in place. No need to include the company name
    • Meta descriptions can make all the difference between someone clicking on your Google listing and the next site down, so spend time writing these

    Visitor usability and accessibility

    • Make sure the site works in all the major browsers and mobile devices. This means, for example, removing hover effects as these don't work well on a touchscreen
    • Check your forms to make sure they actually work and there is useful advice when a mistake is made
    • Build a customised 404 page so if it does go awry your visitors won’t feel quite so lost. Check your stats to make sure nobody ever ends up on your 404 page
    • Every link should have some descriptive anchor text, better for your visitors and better for the search engines - so don’t use ‘Click here’
    • All sorts of things can go wrong at checkout and it’s still the highest exit element of any website, so make sure it’s well labelled, simple to use, and allows the visitors to edit and check each stage. Try to buy something to make sure it works!
    • If you have a site search make sure it’s easy to find: put it in the main content not hidden up in the header

    Checking website coding

    If you have the expertise, it’s worth checking these points with HTML and page organisation.

    • Use external files where possible: JavaScript, CSS and even the document headers should all be in external files. It lowers bandwidth and speeds up page loads once the files are cached. Combine styles and scripts into single files and minimize size where possible
    • Don't use plugins unless there is no alternative. Plugins slow things down. Some plugins really slow things down
    • Text size: use EMs (a unit equal to the currently specified point size) or percentages. Don’t use pixels or points. Make sure the text size changes to suit the screen size
    • Obfuscate your email: blocks the phishers and spammers.
    • Optimise your images: lower the quality as much as possible and reduce the size as much as possible. Small files mean less bandwidth and faster loading pages (even with today’s fast connections) and it's something Google likes
    • Add alt text on all your images: good for screen readers and the search engines.
    • Site load-time: Make sure it doesn’t hang waiting for some widget, script or image to load

    There are lots of other things you can do to make a site more effective, but doing all the above get all the basics in place.

  2. John Spinola

    John Spinola UKBF Newcomer Full Member

    Posts: 0 Likes: 1
    Great advice Fisicx. I completely agree with your outline here. Do you know how to optimize page speed for non-wordpress pages. [link removed]
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 12, 2017
    Posted: Jan 10, 2017 By: John Spinola Member since: Jan 10, 2017
    fisicx likes this.
  3. fisicx

    fisicx It's Major Clanger! Staff Member

    Posts: 25,699 Likes: 7,610
    You have multiple CSS and JS files, use bootstrap, connect to umpteen external services and you have redirects. The actual page is reasonably small, it's just you are loading 120+ things one after another from a server which doesn't appear to be set up properly. It's not just one thing, it's lots of things.
    Posted: Jan 11, 2017 By: fisicx Member since: Sep 12, 2006
  4. Edd Dutton

    Edd Dutton UKBF Contributor Free Member

    Posts: 31 Likes: 10
    Thanks for sharing fisicx, some good info in here that I can take forward.
    Posted: Jan 12, 2017 By: Edd Dutton Member since: Dec 13, 2016
    fisicx likes this.
  5. ffox

    ffox UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 555 Likes: 90
    Thanks @fisicx . Nice article with lots of useful content.
    Posted: Jan 13, 2017 By: ffox Member since: Mar 11, 2004
    fisicx likes this.
  6. NetConneXions

    NetConneXions UKBF Enthusiast Full Member

    Posts: 923 Likes: 154
    Nice article.
    Posted: Jan 25, 2017 By: NetConneXions Member since: Aug 13, 2008
  7. Ekim Saribardak

    Ekim Saribardak UKBF Contributor Full Member

    Posts: 34 Likes: 5
    Great advises.
    Posted: Feb 2, 2017 By: Ekim Saribardak Member since: Sep 4, 2016