Quite remarkably my car passed its MOT today.
Now this is the point where someone writing an article would say something like “Which got me thinking about how many websites would pass an MOT?”. That never entered my head until now and this article was well underway before this morning so let’s close our eyes and pretend that I orchestrated that delightful segway right from the start.
So, my car passing its annual test got me thinking about how many websites would pass an MOT?
Managing a website and keeping everything up to date seems like a straightforward task but some of you are running websites that are quite the behemoth. It’s a full time job keeping everything in order and it is easy to lose track of every single paragraph, price and image. But you need to throw some time at it, especially if you are spending money driving traffic to the site.
Block out an afternoon of your time, open a packet of biscuits (or a bottle of gin) and start browsing and clicking. Move around the website as if you were a first time visitor there, and try and think like your audience.
Create a spreadsheet and paste the URL of any pages that need attention and write a note about what needs sorting out. To give you an idea of what to look for here are a few things that get people bouncing off your website very quickly and heading elsewhere:
- Missing Images – ’Awaiting image’ or ‘Image to be supplied’ in place of a proper photo of a product is just wrong, and a bit lazy. If you have the product in stock and you have an iPhone then you have all the required ingredients to take a photo that you can put on your website. At least until the official snaps arrive! Sort these bad boys out as a first priority.
- Out of Stock – Something not being available is ok if you can let a visitor see when it will be back. Something just being out of stock with no other information makes people grumpy. If it is gone for good then take it off your site or make it clear on the page (but show them a suitable alternative product).
- The Basics – Can a visitor find a phone number really easily and can they find your address? Is it a simple exercise to find out your opening hours and days, and how straightforward is it to find a way to send you a message?
- Broken Links & Forms – If you do use a webform on your contact page then test it weekly. Things break down on webservers and there is a lot of code and software running behind webforms. It is very irksome for someone to type a long message into a contact form only to have it fail when they click send. Likewise, clicking on links that don’t work is equally frustrating. Find them and fix them. If your website links off to other external websites then make sure they still exist and the expected content is still there.
- Browser Testing – If you have only ever looked at your website in Internet Explorer or Firefox then you might be in for a testing time, literally. Visit in Chrome, Edge and on your mobile or tablet. All browsers interpret code differently, and what looks good in Firefox might look awful in Microsoft Edge. Times have also changed. Five years ago web traffic was pretty much still owned by Microsoft browsers. Now it is different; don’t be surprised if upwards of 75% of your traffic comes to you via Safari and Chrome combined so make sure it looks right in these. Oh, and make sure it works on any type of mobile too.
There is plenty more to run at and list, such as typos, out of date content, badly cropped images, links to blogs and social media accounts that never get updated, but you get the picture by now. It will be a very beneficial use of your time.
You won’t get a certificate but you will convert more browsers into buyers.