Audit and Update Your Website During COVID-19 Downtime
While Covid-19 may have hit the pause button on some of your business activity, it’s also the perfect time to get to that website audit and those website updates you’ve been putting on the back burner for so long.
You might be feeling a little (or a lot) frustrated by a slowing down in business, but if you use this time to make improvements that will strengthen the conversion rate of your website, you’ll be set up for greater success once business picks up again.
Here are my ideas on how to get started on your website audit, the three major questions you need to ask yourself, and the tech you should look at updating.
Dive in and give your website the love it needs.
Question 1: Are you using outdated technology?
“Old school is cool” does not apply when it comes to website functionality. Web standards shift each year. So if your website is more than two years old, chances are, there’s a lot of tech that’s going to need updating if you’ve neglected it for some time.
Some warning signs to look out for?
Slow load times: Did you know that 40% of people give up and abandon a site that takes more than 3 seconds to load? and a 1-second delay in a page’s response time can result in a 7% drop in conversions? That’s a lot of wasted potential.
Responsiveness: Between browsing behaviors and search results, having a mobile-friendly or mobile-first website is a must. That’s because Google indexes websites based on their mobile experience and that looks good on smartphones. Above that, more than 50% of website traffic comes from mobile devices, so if you aren’t visible there, you’re missing out on customers.
Website security: Security matters to everyone. If your website does not use SSL security, then it is time to fix that and fast. You can check by going to your website and look next to the URL. If it begins with “https” instead of “http” it means the site is secured using an SSL Certificate (the s stands for secure). If not, get one ASAP. Why? If your website is not using an SSL certificate, it will be flagged and will most likely drop in rank for search results. Google Chrome will show your users that your website is not secure, and to top it off, you won’t be able to accept any online payments.
In summary, check your:
- Plugins or themes that need to be updated: You’ll miss on security updates if you leave these for too long.
- Broken links (you can address this using a plugin).
- Broken features and/or plugins. Remove any that aren’t necessary.
- Formatting and/or style issues.
- Browser compatibility (check them all).
- SSL Security Certificate: you can get one of these from your domain provider, or look into plugins if you use WordPress.
Question 2: What does your website performance look like in general?
Every page of your website needs to work flawlessly so that it wows your customers and converts traffic as it should. This means that you’ll need to check out every page, click every link, and drill down into your user experience.
What is your Page Speed and Yslow (Yahoo) score?
You can check these using tools like GTMetrix and see which files are the troublemakers, vs. which pages are doing well. This will give you a good roadmap to follow when outlining and prioritising fixes. Aim for a loading time under 3 seconds.
Are your website images optimized for the web?
If your website’s images are too large, untagged, or not set up in the correct format, they’ll slow down the load time of your pages, and affect your SEO. It’s a mystery to many, but there are methods for making sure that your images are all optimised for the web. This includes factors like using alt tags, choosing the correct sizes and formats, and compressing them to decrease their file size (and therefore load time), using either a plugin or script.
Are you making use of website caching?
Website caching is one of the most beneficial technologies available. In short, it makes websites extremely fast, which leads to better SEO scores and increased user satisfaction — which means better conversions and increased income if you’re selling products or services online.
While the technology and precise details of caching can be pretty complex, the underlying idea is really very simple. Basically, caching is the act of keeping data in storage to allow retrieval without having to request the data from the original source if that data will not change frequently. An easy example to illustrate this would be to ask you what 3 x 5 is. You already know that it’s 15 without having to do any mental processing. Well, that’s kind of how caching works.
You can make use of website caching by using a plugin if you’re on WordPress, or you can use your website hosts caching, though you might want the help of a website developer to make sure you’re doing it all correctly.
Is your website easy to navigate?
You might be a little biased with this one, so get a friend to help you out. Can they find what they’re supposed to and fast? Information should be no more than two clicks away. If you haven’t done so already, consider implementing site search, mega menus, and deep footers to link to popular content. A warning sign that signals that your visitors may not be finding what they’re looking for is a high bounce rate. Check your Google Analytics to see what yours is. On average, a bounce rate between 40-60% is considered to be OK (though this varies depending on your industry). If it’s higher than that, we suggest seeking out some UX and UI advice from a website designer and developer ASAP.
Is your content up to date and consistently added to?
Content matters, especially when it comes to SEO. It positions you correctly in the market, makes you look fresh and attracts the right kind of customers. One way to go about creating attractive content that’s bang on target is to look at the search queries and referral sources that brought visitors to your site. Aside from that, make sure that descriptions, bios, and about pages aren’t left to the sands of time.
Question 3: Is your design up to date with current trends?
What may have looked great just a couple of years ago, might not look so hot anymore. That’s especially true if you’re using template designs that are/were out the box. If you’re not sure about whether your website needs a facelift, there are a couple of things you can ask yourself, and some background research you can do.
When last did you give your website a redesign?
If you can’t remember, or it’s been a couple of years, that’s too long! Sorry. If your site looks professional and is loaded with useful information, visitors will see you as an authority and expert. Likewise, if your site looks poorly designed or out-of-date, they may make the same assumptions about your company.
Is it up to date with modern design standards?
Take a look around at your competitors or just the websites you love, and check out the ones you admire/envy the most. Chances are, they’re following 2020 website design trends. Some of the biggest website design trends of 2020 include a lot of white space (minimalism), hand-drawn icons and elements, glowing colours, and ultra minimalistic navigation bars. How do you stack up?
Does the design reflect your brand?
Your brand is a living thing and has probably evolved in the last year or maybe even less. Does your website reflect that? Does the wording (copy), use of images, colour, and your logo reflect the heart of what you offer the world? If not, it’s time for a change.
How can we help?
If you went through these questions and felt it was a little too close to home, we’re here to help you audit and update your website. At Campbell WebWorks, we’ll audit your website for you, and then go about making the updates and improvements empowering and fun. Our team is fully capable of designing and developing your dream website. For more, visit our services page.