Congratulations! You're ready for launch! But before you make your site known to the world, it's important to check it carefully through fresh eyes. Yes, you've been living and breathing every link, dissecting each and every page, and slaving over your content. But, your site's credibility can easily get shot the second a visitor hits a broken link or spots a typo. After all, your site is a reflection on your business, your product and, well...you.
Make QA (Quality Assurance) a part of your master plan and you can be sure you're putting your best foot forward. Now, even in my 10+ years in the industry, I have yet to find anyone say, "I love QA'ing my site. I look forward to it. I wish I had more pages to check."
But QA does not have to be all that drab. Make a checklist and log action items for every page and the time will fly.
Here's what your preflight checklist should include:
1) Check what's above your fold. The "fold" is the imaginary line at the bottom of your screen. When you first land on a Web page, anything above that line falls above the fold. Place your "must-see" content, links or images above the fold whenever possible for maximum exposure. The purpose and benefit of every page should be clear before visitors even begin to scroll.
2) Test every link. You've edited, formatted, moved files and changed page names. And, yet with all your hard work, broken links will happen. Everytime a visitor clicks a link, they hope to find exactly what they're lookingfor. Error pages will instantly cause frustration and doubt in your visitors'minds. Make sure every link leads to the correct destination!
3) Check Spelling. FrontPage, Dreamweaver and most other web-building applications, have spell-check. Use it. Because you've probably edited and re-edited your text over time, it never hurts to run one last check.
4) Read every page as if you were visiting for the first time. Put yourself in a new visitor's shoes. What are the first questions on your site's topic?What would their reaction be?
5) Make sure your menus and links make sense. Instead of getting overly cute or cryptic with menus and link titles, hit visitors over the head withclear phrases and words that describe exactly what they'll find on each page.For example, one leading discount site had a link that read "Show Me theMoney." After changing the title to "Get Online Coupons" hisconversion nearly doubled.
6) Ensure your text and links are digestible. It's a fact: Internetusers do not read Web pages like books. They are detectives who knowwhat they're looking for. They skim pages looking for any clue that they'reon the right track. If you burden them with endless miles of text, they're likely to abandon you in search of a more user-friendly page. Keep visitors engagedby breaking up long content.
Some effective clutter-busting techniques include:
7) Make sure you've balanced your pages with relevant images that reinforce your content.
- Bold text
- White space
8) Check the clarity and flow of content.
9) Test submission forms -- especially on your Contact Us or Order pages.
10) Ask others to review. Fresh eyes make all the difference! Ask everyone you know, especially those who reflect your site's target audience, to critique your site and give you honest feedback.