A simple functionality audit is not a substitute for a full web site audit that identifies areas of missed marketing potential (we can do that for you), but you CAN make sure the site stays in working order. If you’re the web site owner, and you don’t visit your own web site much, chances are not many other people are visiting it either, since it has little of your involvement (get help with content marketing), but at least know if your site is working properly. Don’t rely on your web designer to monitor and test your site in perpetuity. Once it’s delivered, you should set a calendar item or date in your appointment book and do a monthly test.
First: Is it even up? There are services like UptimeRobot that will alert you by e-mail if your site goes down. Generally, a few minutes once in a while is normal with 99% uptime from your host, but if it stays down for an hour, that’s really not good. But there’s also no substitute for visiting the site in person to make sure it still looks the way you left it. An automatic update, or a change by a 3rd party widget provider, might have caused breakage to some visible component. Just one example: Twitter recently updated its widget code, breaking a number of sites that had twitter feeds on their home pages. Here are 10 other things an uptime tool won’t tell you:
- 1 Test Contact & Subscribe Forms.
- 2 Inspect Blog Updates.
- 3 Click on Social Media Profiles.
- 4 Click All Menu Items & Internal Links.
- 5 Examine 3rd Party Page Content.
- 6 Update Testimonials and FAQs.
- 7 Double Check Core Information.
- 8 Measure Pluses, Likes, and Shares.
- 9 Evaluate Marketing Functionality.
- 10 Evaluate Content Functionality.
Test Contact & Subscribe Forms.
If your lead capture forms aren’t working, then you may be missing leads. Test each form, especially on your Home page an Contact page, as if you were a prospective client.
Inspect Blog Updates.
If you have a blog feed to your home page, make sure a recent post has not done something strange. Sometimes an expired image link or a bit of code at the beginning of the post, or just too long a title can produce undesirable results. It’s usually an easy fix.
Click on Social Media Profiles.
If you grabbed a custom URL/link for one of your social media profiles, in some cases the old URL won’t work anymore, at least after a while. Click each of your social media profile icons to make sure they’re still pointed to the most current URL. Meanwhile, if you’ve created any new social media profiles (e.g. you recently started using Pinterest for business), you might want to add an icon/link.
Click All Menu Items & Internal Links.
If one of your pages or posts has a changed URL from the last update you did, did it update the navigation/menu properly? What about any text links, buttons, or graphical icons on your pages that link to other posts and pages. Make sure at least the most obvious links (whether text links or graphical icons) are working.
Examine 3rd Party Page Content.
If you sometimes change out a Youtube video or iframed content on your pages, did you check how it looks when served to site visitors? Be sure to check pages that contain 3rd party content, preferably as soon as you update the code, but at least during your functionality audit.
Update Testimonials and FAQs.
These are meant to be dynamic, not static content pieces. In other words, to be authentic and effective, they’re added to over time. Each month, add the latest frequent question (and answer) and any new testimonials you want to feature.
Double Check Core Information.
If your contact info, services, or coverage areas have changed, your site isn’t actually functioning to deliver the correct information. You can often update it yourself, if you’re using a modern site platform, or you can have your marketing consultant or web designer do it, if you have a support/maintenance arrangement. New Year Tip: Update your copyright info, if it’s not done automatically.
If you have share buttons with counters (if not: for goodness’ sake, at least get a “+1” button), check how many new signs of approval you’ve gotten. Consider asking happy clients and people in your network to express approval by providing a click on that +1, a Yelp review, or a LinkedIn testimonial. Acknowledgement is part of the functionality, so make sure that part of your marketing is functioning in the sense that you’re growing it, not stagnating.
Evaluate Marketing Functionality.
A site that’s technically functional is only the start. What is it functional *as*? How about practical functionality as a marketing tool? [pullquote position=”left”]The rule for successful web site marketing is fresh, frequent, original content. Look at how often you’re blogging, how often you’re adding new videos. If you’re wondering what to do for “SEO” or to grow your web site ‘traffic’, the answer isn’t technical but practical: A content marketing strategy with ongoing content additions, highly interesting content, both on your web site and your social channels (your web site isn’t functioning if it’s isolated), with lots of shares and pluses.
Evaluate Content Functionality.
A site may be technically functional but not converting many hits into leads, if the content isn’t laid out according to a clear sales pattern. Is your qualifying info up top (what service you provide, and where you provide it)? Are your differentiators right after that? Web site visitors routinely have a 6-8 second decision span on whether to continue or bounce. If you’re not offering anything different or differently, the content isn’t functional. Are your options for action ever present and easily seen? If there are barriers for a lead providing contact info or reaching you, it’s not likely to convert many leads.
Now’s the time to set a recurring calendar date for your functionality audit, and use this as a checklist to look at your web site functionality. It’s likely 15-20 minutes of your time, after you’ve done it once, and it can save you all kinds of headaches as well as help your marketing. Print this and staple it to the wall by your desk, if you need to. But don’t forget. Happy New Year! This is the year you take action on your marketing. If you need help doing a web site audit, or want a professional eye, we’re here.