Whether your website is a simple shop window or a fully data-driven e-commerce shop, it is an important channel for building trust with your audience and hopefully leads to a few sales. With this in mind, it is important to make sure that it is in full working order.
In this article we will be looking at optimising your website for speed, accessibility, security and SEO, as well as our offer for a complimentary website health check.
Speed & Performance
Speed is one of the first things you should check your website for. When 40% of people abandon a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load and a 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions you really need to make sure that your website is doing everything possible to load faster.
A diagnostic check on your website will be able to tell you what areas need particular attention. This will include potential opportunities like ensuring that images are compressed and sized appropriately.
Web developers should be able to fix most issues quickly, however limitations with your website's technology might make certain issues difficult to resolve. As an example, I would always expect a site served over a CDN (like Netlify) to have a faster server response time than a site running a lot of server-side code (like PHP or WordPress).
You may also need to reconsider some of the features that you are currently using. A fancy video on your homepage may be a useful way to hook new customers, but these often take a long time to load. To mitigate the issue, you might decide to make your video loop shorter, lower the video quality a little, or even replace it with a static image.
A lot of people may not be aware of designing websites for accessibility, but this is actually a really important feature that should be incorporated into every website.
Making your website more accessible means reaching more customers and providing them with a more comfortable experience. In some cases you may need to optimise HTML code for people with disabilities (for example, blind people using screen readers), but most the time, the same principles apply to everyone.
Consider filling in a contact form — have you ever lost track of what information you are supposed to be filling in? This may be down to a popular web design trend in which placeholder text is used to label inputs instead of an external label.
Customers are unable to see the name of the input as soon as they start filling one of these forms in — this can get even more confusing if an error pops up with no explanation as to what it relates to!
A few other accessibility features to consider include:
- Providing an adequate contrast ratio between text and backgrounds
- Making sure that the clickable area for links and buttons is big enough for people visiting the site on mobile
- Ensuring that images have meaningful 'alt' text in case web visitors are unable to see them
Security & Best Practice
As the internet grows, so does the opportunity for hacking, data theft and identity fraud. By following a number of best practices these threats can be minimised on your website.
To start improving your website's security, you should make sure that it runs over HTTPS (SSL). This is used to secure the connection between your customer and your website. It prevents man-in-the-middle attacks (essentially eavesdropping), which can be carried out in various ways such as hacking into your WiFi network.
Whilst the above issues can be diagnosed with a simple website health check, you should also be aware that you have a responsibility to ensure that your server-side code and databases are secure.
Search Engine Optimisation
Finally, to make sure that your website is properly indexed by Google and other search engines, it should be assessed for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
If you have addressed all of the other sections, this should fall into place quite nicely, since search engines will give a better ranking to faster and more accessible websites.
Some important things to do here are:
- Add a title and description to each page
- Add open graph tags to your pages so that social platforms display a suitable summary image, description and title
- Ensure that you structure your page content appropriately with correct heading levels etc
- Use descriptive text in your links
- Keep font sizes legible
- Avoid plugins like Java or Flash
- Make sure that you do not have any broken links
Remember that this is just a part of SEO, and you will also need to be doing additional work to maximise your audience, perhaps by advertising your products and services or posting articles on social networks to get more engagement.
Speed, accessibility, security and SEO are all essential components of an effective website, but checking every aspect of these yourself would be very time consuming.
If you have any questions about the article, please leave a comment below.