If Your Website Were Ours We’d Have Considered These 6 Things

Checklist to improve your Website - New Haircut Digital Advice

Let’s say you walk into a store you’ve never been to before. Maybe you heard of it from a friend, you just stumbled upon it or you clicked on an ad and … I’m already ruining the metaphor. OK, back to the store visual – you walk in to this hypothetical place and the products aren’t organized, the colors make you hurt on the inside and you can’t find the staff.

Would you buy anything … other than Advil for your migraine?

Just like that store, your website is your customer’s first impression of your business. If you’re reading this you probably don’t have a store. So that website is your chance to wear your Sunday’s best. Meaning it must present well and lure your customers in. Even if your team has the smartest people with a bang-up idea, a poorly designed and optimized website makes you look bad, which can basically ruin your life.

Open a new tab and go to your website. It’s time for some Fall cleaning. Breathe. We’re going to get through this together.

1. Take a step back. Ask your self, “Why does my website exist?”
Don’t get all philosophical now. Your website represents your brand, markets your company, may serve as a storefront and is your chance to tell everyone in the world who you are. Sounds like a lot.

You know when you made a poster for a science fair as a kid? OK, so maybe I’m the only science geek in the room. Anyway, as hard as you (or I) might have tried, you couldn’t fit every detail on that poster board. Online eyeballs have WAY less patience than salaried teachers judging science fairs.

According to Fresh Consulting, “It takes as little as 0.5 seconds for visitors to decide whether they are interested in a website or not, so be clear with what you want users to do.”

So the fifth grade science fair nerd in you asks – do you have the essentials on your site or app?

  • Clear and concise messaging that resonates with the customer
  • Unique brand positioning that illustrates what your company is and why you’re different and relevant
  • Immediate value of offering via, for example, content, graphics, testimonials, video, etc
  • The funnel that ultimately drives customers to your call-to-action, or CTA.

A CTA could come in the form of your contact information, a form to complete, requests for white papers or pricing lists, etc. Just don’t be obnoxious… DTelepathy has some good advice on the ask and pricing lists. And here are some good examples of how to ask users to sign up for your emails via Contently, The Muse and yours truly.

Anyway, if you choose to show your prices, here is a bad example of a pricing list that could fool you because it’s cute with pretty colors. Here’s a good example that doesn’t need cool-kid tricks.

2. [Leaving 5th grade now] – do you have hi-quality content?
Are you delivering the right story to your online visitors to get them to want more? Anything short of this is noise.

What do we mean by ‘content’?… text, imagery, illustrations, videos. Work with other team members/departments to ensure that the branding matches not only the tone of your company, but how your customers expect to be engaged.

Speak to consumers in language they understand and with words you want them to use when speaking about your company. Give Warby Parker a look, they get it. Skyword is one of our clients, they’re content legends.

Oh, also?.. edit before you publish. Everyone hates typos, except iPhones.

Do you have high-quality content?

Now you’re thinking wait, isn’t SEO one of those buzzwords we should talk about? And “buzzword” is also one of those buzzwords … well, we’ll get there. Quality comes first when talking about your products and services. Second is optimizing your site content so customers can search for and find you.

3. Quiz time. Is UI A) an alternative U2 group formed after Apple’s announcement that the band’s newest album is in your iTunes library (learn to remove album from Apple library here) or B) User Interface?

I hope you chose B.

Here’s the Graphic Design Junction definition of UI -

“UI is dedicated to the actual elements that interact with the user– the physical and technical methods of input and output, and refers to the aggregation of approaches and elements that allow the user to interact with a system. This however, does not address details such as how the user reacts to the system, remembers the system and re-uses it.” (that last part is some foreshadowing.)

That’s a lot! This UI checklist should help:

  • Is your site branding consistent — is there consistency among your use of colors, font styling, buttons, imagery?
  • Does your site have a logical and navigable flow? This allows users to click through your site seamlessly to the point of conversion, then do it. The flip side of this, an unnavigable site which makes for unhappy customers and life-threatening customer service calls.
  • Are the elements simple or is your site cluttered with images and text? Simple design is better for users to actually use your site.
  • Use layout design and font sizes for a content hierarchy, showing users who’s the boss. We kid, that’s not what it’s about. It’s to show them what’s important on the site and again, guide them through the site.
  • Light and shadow also help establish what’s what and are good for interactive buttons

4. Now what’s this UX I’ve been hearing about?
Listen to Jay Melone, who interviewed their UX partner, Chris Pallé of Wisdom & Craft on this very topic

“What you need to know as the product stakeholder is that UX, or human-centered design, will give you a much better chance at building what your customers are asking for, using language they get. The net net, UX costs but when implemented properly will wind up saving you buckets of dollars throughout the engagement.”

Graphic Design Junction says “UX (User Experience) is all those elements and factors related to the user’s interaction with a particular environment or device which generate a positive or negative perception of the product, brand or device. UX is subjective and focused on use.”

Now here’s the “Honeycomb” Checklist á la Peter Morville

  • Useful: Ah, bringing us back to #1 of this post. #memories
  • Usable: If users can’t figure out how to use the site quickly, they’re out.
  • Desirable: How does your site make me feel? This is based on the overall design elements including the logo, graphics, colors, writing and ease of use.
  • Findable: Make sure users can easily find the info they want. And have you checked on your search functions lately? DTelepathy has some good ideas for customizing search.
  • Accessible: Use those ALT tags, Target was sued over it.
  • Credible: A good site will add credibility, as do the About section, staff information and contact info. Transparency is good, evasiveness is sketchy.

5. Test it out
Send your MVP/beta/good enough for Mom (what isn’t?) version to friends, family, supporters. And when Mom can navigate your site without calling you for help, anyone can.

Use tools, too. InVision to prototype and get feedback. YouEye to run usability tests. Google Analytics and CrazyEgg to capture metrics. Optimizely or Monetate to A/B test and optimize.

6. If you do change your site, don’t lost that sweet SEO
To sum up this in-depth, useful SEO article,
Find all your URLs and link ‘em up (try Xenu Link Sleuth)
Locate inbound links (Try Open Site Explorer)
Perform an “SEO audit
Tell Google you’re moving with 301 redirects

Now you have work to do. See you on the web, or in our office ;)