So you have a brand new website to launch? Inspect it first. Nothing is more embarrassing than starting to promote your website only to find it riddled with errors, or the login process is difficult for users, or the navigation is problematic. There are many ways a website can go wrong. But with a keen eye and a little patience, renegade errors can be headed off at the pass. Here are some areas that need to be looked into before your website goes live, in no particular order.
The first thing a visitor is likely to notice about your website is its design. Web design can be helpful, neutral or even detrimental.
- Are the colors pleasing and/or appropriate?
- What is the first thing a new visitor notices? Is this what is intended?
- Have you stuck to basic web design conventions?
- Is the web design consistent across all pages?
- Does the it look decent on all devices: large computer, laptop, tablet, phone? Uses responsive web design?
Accessibility & Usability
Website accessibility refers to the ability to get to the main information of your website. Special consideration should be paid to the issues of those with disabilities, for example the sight imaired.
- Are the fonts easy to read?
- It the type at a reasonable size, spacing, desity, etc.?
- Is the color of the type adequately visible against the background?
- Does the website load in a reasonable time frame?
- Are all links and navigation easy to identify as such? To a new visitor?
You may have a fantastic website design with all the bells and whistles. I can be high-tech and perfectly accessible. But are you getting your message across? Website content should probably been put first in this article - even above the title - because it's that kind of important. (Too late now...)
- How's your spelling and grammar?
- Is the content that you present up-front helpful and informative?
- Have you provided a search function?
- Do the headings and links make sense on their own?
- Are pages of text an approachable length? Broken up to be easily digested?
Ultimately, you want the visitor to take some kind of action. This desired result could be registering for an account, signing up for you newsletter, sending an email message or picking up the phone and calling you. Ultimately you want folks to "opt-in" to your website in some way.
- Is it clear what you want the visitor to do next?
- Is everything that is important to convey an initial impression above the fold?
- Are easy ways to contact you apparent? Email? Phone? Address to your location with a map?
- Have you presented enough opportunities for the visitor to take the next step?
- Is the process to contact, buy, sign up, register etc. possible? Better yet, is it easy to do?
Do Your Research
You really need to educate yourself on what needs to be done - in general - to have a successful website. You can't rely solely to your web designer to tall you everything proactively. Not that they don't want to be helpful, but because there's only so much they can do for you. The best thing to do it look at what other successful websites are doing. (There's a reason that they're successful, after all.) Sometimes doing enough things right covers a multitude of sins. Luck counts for a little bit, but ignorance will cost you eventually. There are no shortcuts where your website is concerned - you must gain as much information as possible and do your homework. It's not so much difficult as it is time consuming. Remember: anything worth doing is worth doing well.