Ah, it’s that time of year. When retail stores start pulling out Halloween goodies and stuff for every holiday from here to December 31st.
If your business is typically impacted heavily by Thanksgiving and December holiday shopping, don’t forget to get your website ready too. While brick and mortar retail stores in the United States typically prepare for Black Friday, websites need to get ready for the Monday following Black Friday: Cyber Monday. Whether you are a brick and mortar with a website or your entire business is web-based, make sure you start getting ready now.
Have you looked at your own website lately? Go take a look at your site. When was the last time you tried using it? Still staring at it and not sure what to address? Here are 10 things you can do to prepare.
Do all your links still work? Anything broken? Check all of them. Don’t leave anything to chance. Click those links and see if you reach every page you want people to go to, whether it is to a page on your site or someone else’s.
2. Products and Services
Check the products and services on your site. Anything there out of date? Have you stopped offering some of those items? Or…
Has any pricing on the items you see changed? Too low or too high? Do you need to list any specials to entice customers?
4. Shopping Cart
Got a shopping cart? Tried using it lately? As with all software, sometimes things break. Make sure your cart is still doing it’s job.
5. Software Patching and Security
When was the last time your site’s software was updated? Have the creators of your shopping cart released a patch for it since you last installed it? Have you been applying those updates regularly? What about other scripts on your site? Keep those up-to-date so they will perform better for your customers and so you will have increased protection against hackers.
6. Contact Information
How easy is it to reach you? Can your customers easily find your email, phone, fax, or business address? Got a handy map from Google or MapQuest or other service on your site?
7. Look and Feel
Your home page is your website storefront. It also works like the front page of a magazine or book. Does it look nice? Is it attractive to your target demographic (and not just you)? Is it cluttered? Is the design and layout following current trends or are you still stuck in the ’90s?
8. Quick and Easy Usability Testing
Usability is about, well, how easy is it to USE your website? Can a visitor find what they want? Can a visitor find what you want them to find? Using the checklist above is a good start. But how about getting some other eyeballs on the page besides yours? It’s easy to fall into the “can’t see the forest for the trees” when it is a site you see all the time. So get someone else to take a look that does not look at it regularly.
Years ago, I used to have what I called the Grandmother Test. If my grandmother looked at a website and couldn’t use it, or couldn’t find what she wanted, or couldn’t even read the text on the page (too small or not enough contrast) then the site failed the grandmother test. Your website should be so easy to use, your grandmother can use it.
9. Can Your Web Host Handle It?
While most websites may never experience this level of traffic, let’s say your website becomes wildly popular. Can your web host handle that? What happens if you have a huge traffic spike? Check your terms of service, especially if someone is offering you “unlimited hosting”. The fine print for unlimited usually says that at a certain point, when you are making too much of a strain on their server, they’ll shut off your site.
10. Get an Expert
And of course (shameless plug) if you can’t fix it yourself, call a web design expert to do it for you. GeekArtist Web Solutions, LLC is on hand for website redesigns and regular website maintenance. In fact, we’re offering an hour of free updates for new clients that are looking for someone to help maintain an existing site. So if you have a site and just need your website’s content updated, get in touch!