Managing a website is an ongoing project. Like a piece of machinery, your site will need to be oiled, greased and lovingly looked after to keep it in peak condition. And keeping a watchful eye on your website has benefits – those sites that maintain high standards of content, functionality and design are far more likely to convince users to stay for longer (socPub, 2015).
Requiring no advanced technical understanding, follow this guide to make sure your website meets these high standards and works at its best for you and your brand.
Is Your Content Top Of The Line?
Unquestionably, content is the most important aspect of your website and is the first place you should look when considering your website upkeep.
A content review is a fantastic way to take stock of what content there is on your site, and mark it against certain criteria. Is it still relevant to your brand currently? Is it visible and accessible? Is it in desperate need of reorganising? Delve deep into your content and don’t be afraid to make sweeping changes – if a section is irrelevant, cut it out.
You can also employ tools to help you feel confident when committing to decisive changes. If your brand covers many topics and you’re unsure of how to organise things clearly, site mapping programs such as GlooMaps can be a real help.
Is Your Website User-Friendly?
Once you’re satisfied you’ve given your content enough care and attention, it’s time to turn to this essential question – is your website easy to use?
To answer, consider these key aspects of your site:
In these fast-paced digital days, a slow website is not acceptable to the average person online, so speed is a must. Google Page Speed Insights is a useful tool to help you find out if your website is sluggish or speedy and allows you to make informed changes to improve user experience.
You also need to ask yourself if your website is responsive. Can it adapt its layout depending on the device it’s viewed on? You can test this by accessing your site on your desktop and minimising the window – is it flexible to the change in size? If not, one way to ensure your website is flexible across devices is to have a mobile-first design, as it’s easier for your website to expand to fill space on a desktop than reduce to fit in a smaller screen. Decreasing the number of characters per line in your text to 30-40 and including space around links and buttons for ease of use on a touch screen are two easy changes which make your website much more responsive on mobile.
Use Analytics To See Where You Can Improve
It’s crucial that you constantly seek ways to improve your site and there’s no better way than using your analytics. Knowing how your users interact with your website helps you discover exactly what works best and what needs changing.
There’s a wide variety of tools which you can call upon to learn more about how users act on your site:
Google Analytics and Google Optimize are also brilliant methods and tools for analysing your user’s behaviour, taking a quantitative approach. Google Optimize in particular is useful for A/B testing of hypotheses. It allows you to see the effectiveness of a new addition or change you’ve made to your site by targeting different users with different versions and seeing which garners the best response.
Analytics can seem overwhelming, but tools such as these make understanding your data simple, and give you the power to take it and make confident, informed improvements to your site.
Is Your Website’s Design The Best It Can Be?
When people head to your website they form a first impression in 50 milliseconds, and 94% of that impression is design-related (Alsudani and Casey, 2009). Ensuring your website design is immediately eye catching, but also functional, is key to convincing your users to trust in you and your brand. Something as easy as reconsidering your typography and images can make all the difference, and is a good place to start updating your design.
Typography may seem a small part of your website, but it has a big effect. Enhancing your brand voice while still maintaining functionality is vital. The wide variety of independent foundries means there’s a wealth of fonts to choose from to help you achieve this, and tools such as Google Fonts, Adobe Fonts and Cloud Fonts broaden your options even further.
Formatting your text correctly is also crucial. Increasing your line spacing makes your text easier to read – 140%-180% of your font size is the ideal spacing for readability. And using a contrast checker tool such as the one available on WebAim.org helps you find the best colours for both text and background to improve functionality.
Evaluating the images you use on your website is another good step to improving the effectiveness and accessibility of your design.
Take steps to ensure that you treat your images so they are appear to the best affect. Good image optimisation tools such as Adobe Photoshop, Affinity Photo, GIMP and Image Resizer are invaluable resources in this line.
Avoid stretching or squeezing your images as this damages their quality, and when you’re choosing them choose wisely – you want them to be meaningful and enhance your in-text message. This is especially important when selecting stock images. Be discerning, look for interesting compositions and colour harmony and don’t be afraid to edit if needed. iStock, Adobe Stock and Shutterstock are useful, but costly, resources for stock images. Unsplash, Pixabay and Rawpixel are good free alternatives.
Armed with the advice, tools and knowledge in this guide, getting your website back to its best shouldn’t seem so daunting. If you’d like to discuss your website and its maintenance more, we’d love to help support you, so please feel free to get in touch.