By Akash Mehra, Web Design Temple
Have you recently completed designing a website for your company or business? O have you just redesigned your existing website? If the answer is “yes,” are you sure that your site is going to achieve all the goals it has been created for? Are you sure your site is going to be successful? Are you sure that potential customers can find you in top rankings on various search engines?
Web design technologies, applications and developments change so rapidly nowadays that the site you developed just a few months back might be outdated as of now, and with the technological changes in web designing, your site might seem obsolete. Here are a few points you should consider to ensure your site is a successful one that will get potential customers and rank higher on a search engine.
Is your website compatible?
Your website should display correctly, in its intended form, shape and design, to all visitors regardless of whatever computers, operating systems, browsers and monitor resolution they use. You will have to make sure that the site displays correctly to all the users. Some sites need some plugins or players to display the content; if that is the case with yours, then a download link for such plugins and players should be provided, so that the users who do not have such plugins or players can download it instantly and view your content. If possible, you can also provide a guide on how to install such plugins or players on different page on your Web site.
Is your site complete?
None—repeat—none of the web pages on your web site should be under construction. Usually, designers develop a site over a period of time, and in most cases your site will never be truly completed; regardless, you should not leave your website or any web page under construction. If you do not have the content or information to be put up on a page, then simply do not put the page on the site now. You can do that later when you have the information or content.
Does your site have relevant content?
You need to keep a watchful eye on the content that is being published on your website. Legal and technical implications apart, the content on your site has several other implications on the search engine rankings. Make sure that you have relevant content for all your pages like the Home Page, About Us page, Products page, Services page, Contact page, etc. All the information mentioned should have been created or developed by you or the web designer. Is the information on your website relevant, accurate, complete and current? Do a watchful query on whether the content on your site is original and not copied from some other sources or site. Duplicate content will not help you to achieve top rankings in search engines.
The content on your Web site should be checked for the correctness of spelling and typos and incorrect grammar.
What is the graphics-to-text ratio on your website?
A graphics effect or image or a Flash effect is meant to attract the visitors of your site, but it should not be overdone to such an extent that the visitor gets involved in the graphics and forgets about the sales message! At the same time, your site should also not look poor in the terms of graphics. So, the key word here is “balance;” there should be a good mix of text content and graphics. If your site has more graphics than text, it will be very difficult to get higher search engine rankings. The ideal text to graphics ration should be 80:20; that is to say, 80 percent should be text and 20 percent should be graphics/images.
Is your website interactive?
We all like something that involves us; that is to say, we like something wherein we can also participate. We all like interactivity. Now, consider the same for your website. Is it interactive? Do visitors feel included? If the answer is yes, then half the battle is won. You have been able to make the visitor a part of your website, and that’s a good thing for search engine promotion. You can include many components and small snippets to make your site interactive like adding a message board, comments, mailing list, polls, etc. You can also add a blog to your site (like this one!) where you can publish articles or your thoughts or news from the industry, which will not only make your site interactive, it will also tempt visitors back again and again.
What is the link structure of your site?
Thoroughly check all the links on your website. The links should all be pointing to their correct, intended pages. There should be a clear hierarchy of links, and all of the links should be working. There should not be a single broken link. If you are linking to an external site, check often the correctness of the links as that might change over a period of time. If you have dead links, edit them or remove them immediately, as they will frustrate your visitors.
How fast does your site load?
Check your site with different Internet connections, and gauge the speed at which it loads. Ideally, your site should load within the first few seconds because that is the average attention span of Internet surfers around the world. If you fail to present your Web site or yourself within the first few seconds, you’ve probably lost a potential customer. The site loading speed depends on various factors, of course: the Internet connection speed of the visitor, the amount of graphics on your site, the server that you are hosted on, and the bandwidth of your that server. Graphics take up a lot of time to load, thus, graphics should be used at those places where absolutely necessary.
Choose a host who can provide good bandwidth and almost 99 percent uptime for your site because you do not want it to be down when a potential customer visits!
Is it easy to navigate your site?
Your site contains information about your company and products or services. But, pay attention to this question: “Is it easy to find the information?” Do you have mandatory pages like Home, About Us, Products, Services, Contacts, etc.? The home page or the index page, which is the first one that loads, should contain links to all the other pages on your site (as well as the top navigation!). The links should be presented in a logical presentation, in such a way that all the information is presented at a glance.
How many incoming links does your site have?
It is very important that your site be referred through other sites or blogs related to your industry. Search engines depend on links from other sites to yours to include in their index. The more incoming links you have for your site, the better. The more related links your site has from related sites, the best. Here’s what I’m talking about: if you have a business of manufacturing exercise notebook manufacturing machinery, then getting a link from a fashion site would serve no purpose, but getting a link from a notebook manufacturer’s site will be considered in high regard by the search engines.
Is your Web site optimized for search engine promotion?
Your site should be optimized for search engine promotion; it should rank higher for important keywords in major search engines like Google, Yahoo, MSN Live, AltaVista, etc. Also, make sure that you make optimum use of title, keyword and description tags. Make sure that the keywords and description you mention are relevant and contain your keywords. Finally, take note that your important keywords should be included in the description mentioned on the Web site.
What is the style of your site?
Each site has its own distinct style and makes its own statement. What style does yours have? What statement does your site make? Is it enhancing your company image? Does it define your business goals? Is it user-friendly? How does your site fare with your competitor’s site? The look and feel of your site should be easy going, attractive and friendly so that reflects your corporate image and helps build business. If your site does not have this, then it’s probably time for a redesign.
Is your site usable?
A site’s usability identifies with the fact of how easily your visitors can make use of it. The best way to know this is to get visitor feedback. If there are complaints, comments or questions from site visitors, then you should change things accordingly. Remember one thing, you are not making a site for yourself but for visitors and potential customers.