How to Ensure Website Essentials with Automated Web Governance
There is one inevitable question that all web editors and webmasters will face, regardless of whether they are just doing a routine evaluation of their website’s performance or initiating a full-fledged website redesign: which elements should be included? Followed by the equally inescapable dilemma: where to place which content?
99MediaLab, a web design and marketing company, has published this incredibly helpful checklist of 50 must-have features for business websites, covering everything from basic information such as your business’ contact details to making sure the site is mobile responsive.
In this post, we would like to share nine examples of website policies that will help you check off all 50 items on the list in no time.
1. “All links should be clear, accessible, and work correctly”
You should have a website policy dedicated specifically to how you use and display links. Link texts should always make sense out of context and clearly indicate where the link takes the visitor to for both accessibility and general user experience reasons. You can learn more about best practices in regards to link texts in the blog post “Why ‘Click here’ is such a bad thing”.
Furthermore, by utilizing a crawler-based, automated link checker you will be warned of any broken links and be provided with an easy way to fix them.
Your policy regarding links should apply to both internal and external links.
The same goes for sitemaps: If you want to provide your visitors with a sitemap for easy navigation, an automated content audit tool will put this together for you, and you can formulate a policy to always have it featured in your site’s footer.
3. “Phone number formats must follow the same format”
Having a policy outlining how and where to display your business’ contact details helps you ensure that people reach out to you the way you want them to. If for example you have one global phone number that you would like to appear in a consistent manner across your site, so that there’s no confusion about how to get in touch with your business, you can set up content scans for specified number formats to check if the phone number appears in differing versions.
4. “Analytics data should dictate menu structure”
Rather than designing your top navigation menu based on intuition, tradition, or management’s wishes, give your visitors what they want: Let the most popular content be reachable with as few click as possible. A good analytics tool will offer you several ways to identify which content deserves to be in the top navigation menu and under which circumstances visitors are looking for which information. To learn more about how to get started with using analytics for optimizing your website, you can check out Siteimprove’s resource section.
5. “Visitors should always be able to give direct feedback”
Providing the option to give direct website feedback at any time is a great service to your visitors. This can be done by having a non-intrusive, but still visible feedback box (for instance in the corner of the visitor’s browser window) regardless of which page the visitor is looking at. A feedback module lets visitors rate and comment on their experience of your website with just a few clicks.
6. “The internal search function should help both visitors and ourselves”
Even if you have the slickest, most intuitive navigation structure, it can still be valuable to include a search function on your website, especially if you have sections on your site with a lot of individual pages, such as a blog or an archive. Analytics data is usually pretty clear when it comes to internal search: If there is a search field, people will use it. An extra benefit of search fields is that you can collect data on the search terms used by visitors in the further improvement of your website.
7. “All pages should follow the template agreed upon”
For a consistent website, have your web designer formulate templates and stylesheets to be used across the site and grant web editors limited, if any, access to deviating from these templates. With a crawler-based web policy tool, you can easily scan pages for HTML that differs from your templates.
This practice also helps to ensure mobile responsiveness. If a page template is designed to be mobile responsive, and this template is applied to all your pages, you’re ensuring the entire website looks great on mobile devices.
8. “Basic SEO checks should be run regularly with clear task delegation”
Use an automated SEO checker to get regular notifications about basic SEO fixes to be dealt with, such as page titles. Your SEO tool should send reports to the responsible people in your team with clear overviews of issues that need to be solved.
9. “The website’s response time must be monitored”
If you pledge that you will never leave your website without supervision, you should be made aware of any performance issues, such as downtime, before your visitors do. With automated 24/7 monitoring you can always check if your hosting service delivers and if your website has acceptable response time.
You can see the full list from 99MediaLab below. For more advice on how to survive in the website wilderness, download “The Web Editor’s Survival Guide.”