November 06, 2009
Last year I wrote about 12 essential web site building blocks — things that you should check when you take on responsibility for a new web site, or even just launch one.
Well, this year I've come up with a few more, mostly as a reminder to me for the next site that I'll be running.
If you're going to show the impact you've made on your organization's web sites, you'll need a point of comparison to start from.
You want to be able to show how things were before you started making improvements. So take screenshots of your site, as many as you can. Also take screens of how your site ranks in search engines for branded and non-branded keywords.
If you're a coder, take screenshots of your site's source code. In six months time you can show how much cleaner you've made it. Take screens of how well your pages validate, how accessible they are, etc. Run a page load speed test and take screens of the results.
Run some quick 'guerrilla' usability tests of your site with friends and family or other employees. Video the results. Not only will this help to establish a baseline of usability for your site, but it will help you to become more familiar with it and identify some usability-related quick wins.
Set up some goals and conversion funnels in your analytics tool — easy to do if you're using Google Analytics. Make sure your website up-time is being monitored by using a tool such as Montastic.
Start tracking how your site ranks on search engines. Set up your site in Digital Point's free search engine keyword rank tracking tool so that you can see how your site is performing over time.
Establish yourself as someone who gets things done and start making an impact by getting some easy fixes under your belt.
Set up a quick A/B test on a popular page (not necessarily your home page; find one that's easier to make changes to) and share the results internally. Stakeholders love data-driven decision making.
Some highly-trafficked web pages are all too often viewed from a purely functional standpoint. Try adding a promotional area to your account log in page or site map. Or how about adding some calls-to-action on your newsletter sign up confirmation page?
How useful is your footer? Does it contain links to your social media URLs and other important destinations?
Review the automated emails that are sent out when someone signs up for an account, forgets their password, etc. Can they be made more useful and/or user-friendly? Chances are they haven't been looked at in a while and could do with an update.
You need to become intimately familiar with all aspects of your site as soon as possible.
Click through most, if not all, the pages on your site(s). Become familiar with what's out there and any navigational and IA issues. Sign up for your site's email newsletter using an account from each of the main email providers.
Speak with team members and stakeholders to learn the history of your web site and the reasons for certain design decisions.
Review the most popular landing pages on your site, especially the ones with the highest bounce rate. Are there any obvious quick fixes that can be made?
Read through the content on these pages — chances are there are readability improvements to be had, if not grammatical and typographical errors to be fixed.
The more organized and structured you can be from the get-go, the better.
Set up a general web team email address and use this for creating accounts with any online tools and services. Start encouraging internal employees to use this address for web requests and inquiries. Add it to your email signature.
Start keeping a record of everything that you do. This makes it much easier at annual review time. A good way to ensure you do this is to send a weekly update of your accomplishments for that week and goals for the next to your supervisor. They'll love this.
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