You can almost see it – the end of the year and the beginning of a fresh, new start in 2016. But before you get too wrapped up in next year’s projects and goals, here are just a few tips to keep your website on track before you toast to 2016.
1. Check Your Links
This is probably something you’re already continuously doing, because links come and go, but it is important to check on all links again (and again). We don’t have to tell you, but will anyway – a broken link equals a poor user experience. Start with external links. For example, have you linked to any conferences lately? Make sure the conference link is still working, or maybe decide to remove it or update it to the general conference page.
It is just as important to ensure internal links are working, so update any that you think may have recently changed, or remove any that may be linking to a deleted page.
2. Review Analytics Data and Evaluate Attainable Objectives
In order to start out on the right foot next year, taking a look at your analytics data can help you determine where you should start, whether cleaning up content or starting new initiatives. You can learn a lot from your web analytics, including where your visitors are going on your website, where they are coming from, what pages they are landing on, what pages they are exiting from, and what type of device they are using to view your website.
All of this information can be summarized for a year-end report that will help you focus your energy and efforts in the beginning of 2016. Maybe your focus is making your content more mobile-friendly. Or maybe it’s updating a top exit page with more useful content so the visitors stay on the page longer. There are so many great ways to dive into analytics data and clean up or curate your content based on what you learn.
3. Gather Devices and Do Internal User Testing to See What You Can Improve
Depending on what content management system (CMS) or marketing automation tool you use, you might be able to view what content will look like on various devices. But what could be better than looking at your content on the actual devices themselves? Hopefully people at your organization have a variety of devices (whether the latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy) that you can use to get a lot of useful information from reviewing the content through different devices, and see if there is room for improvement. It might also be a good idea to check what your website and content looks like on various browsers.
4. Remove Outdated Content from Your Site
Yes, I know. You’ve been avoiding this because it takes time, but if you’re cleaning up your site, this is a must (and an obvious one). Not all content is equal. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t good at one time, it just might not be descriptive enough or relevant enough now. Or perhaps it needs a new call-to-action (CTA) or more research. Or maybe it just really needs to move to your trash folder.
5. Clean Up or Remove Content Sitting in Your CMS
Speaking of the trash folder, now is also the perfect time to clean up your CMS. Have content sitting in draft stage that’s never going to be published? Delete it! Are there old pieces of content sitting the trash folder? Hit “permanently delete.” When you have a clean digital working space, you will have an easier time finding and updating existing website content, and your team will appreciate the effort!
6. Check All Images on Your Site
This is a bit of a task (yes, again time consuming), but you should really take the time to evaluate the images on your site and see if there are any that should be removed or updated. For example, any holiday themes that need to be removed? Maybe you had a placeholder image until a better one came along but forgot to update it once the new one was available.
Also, check your site for images or thumbnails that could use a brand refresh. Start assigning tasks to get these images updated so your website has a cohesive feel. And while you’re at it, are your images accessible? If you’re already taking the time to update images, ensure you have alt text for images, or code as decorative images if they don’t add information to the content of the page.
7. Update Content Tags
Is your website content under the correct category? Are there any tags or categories that are no longer relevant, or have a new name and should be updated? Organizing your content with categories and tags ensures that website visitors doing internal website searches can easily find content on a specific topic. It also ensures the correct content is populating if they click on a specific category or topic, making it as easy as possible for your website visitors to find the information they are looking for.
8. Update Users and Passwords
Does everyone have access to your CMS or other tools related to your website? Do the right people have access? Now is a great time to update passwords and users. Start off 2016 with a fresh start and ensure the correct team members have access, while removing anyone who has left the organization.
So there you have it, a few tips to get your website cleaned up for a fresh start. While it is easy to avoid some of these maintenance tasks when other projects are piling up, taking time out of your day to complete some of these tasks will ensure a quality website over time and will help your team remain proactive.
For more tips on how to manage content across your website, download our free guide "The Web Editor's Survival Guide" here.