Does Your Website Work?
Author: Diane Hughes
When was the last time you tried out all the parts of your website? Have gone clicking around your site to see what your customers are seeing? If you have answered "yes" then good for you… but even if you have, have you looked on your own computer?
A friend of mine is a web designer and if you go into her home office your jaw would drop… you'd think you just stepped into a spaceship. She has several screen and several computers running at once. I asked her what all the computers were for. As a high end website designer, she wants to make sure that her customer's websites look good for everyone viewing the site, whether they are viewing it on a small screen or a large screen. She'll create a website then view it from different monitors to see how it looks… then she'll make adjustments accordingly.
Now, I'm not suggesting that you rush out and buy yourself several monitors to do that job, but there are things you can do.
First, make sure that all of your links are live. Make it a goal of yours to click through your site once a week to make sure the links are live. Of course, if you never change your site and all of the links are internal, then you don't need to do it that often. However, if you change your site periodically and you link to other sites, your links could drop so easily! Check to make sure they're still working.
Second, have friends or family browse your site periodically. I have one friend who emails me every time he changes his site and asks me to check it out. (Please don't email your sites for the same reason… my time is limited! Instead, get some trusted friends or family to view your sites). Have them give you honest feedback. If you're concerned that they will be too nice, put together a checklist where they have to rank various aspects of your site on a scale of 1 to 5.
Third, watch your metrics very closely. If you have 5 steps between your first page and the final purchase confirmation button, what do you notice about the people visiting each page? You can expect most of your visitors to see the first page… then a proportionately fewer number visit the next page… then a proportionately fewer number visit the third page… etc. I can't give you an exact number, of course, but you should see similar numbers each month and they should be proportionate. If you lose 25% of your viewers from the first page to the second, and 25% of those from the second to the third, and 25% of those from the third to the fourth, and 50% of those from the fourth to the fifth, there's a good chance that something on the fifth page is driving them away. Identify what it is and fix it.
Fourth, consider a quick customer service survey. You might want to email customers a survey after they have purchased something or perhaps you can build into your site a quick customer service survey just before the purchase confirmation page. If you have to, consider offering a coupon to customers for the completion of the survey.
Your website may load well and look good on your computer, but the reason could be that your site was designed FOR your computer. If you check it out on other computers and go through the 4 steps above, you'll improve the chances that your website will work for other people no matter how they're viewing it.
Copyright (c) 2006 Diane Hughes
About the author: Diane Hughes
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