Issues with your website can be absolutely devastating. Despite any of the marketing momentum or client base that you've built up, you may find your traffic ranking and following drastically tanking due to website errors. Lag, bad links, a lack of accessibility and even outdated content can quickly damage a website's SEO and lose the faith of its readership. Luckily, there are some ways you can avoid these issues before they even become a problem.
1. Define roles and responsibilities among your team.
One of the best ways to catch website issues is to ensure that they never occur in the first place. Having clearly set roles and responsibilities throughout your development team is the perfect way to ensure that everything is taken care of from start to finish. This removes any ambiguity regarding who is responsible for the finished project at the end, and ensures that no one makes changes to certain parts of the project after it has been completed.
Good communication is essential for a solid development team, but good software is also important. Project management software will be the foundation upon which your development team builds
. You need not only a capable software suite but also well-defined protocols regarding communication, when it should be done and where it should be done. As an example, consistent note-taking within the project management software itself can greatly sidestep any issues and stopping points.
2. Perform regular inventories of web content.
Outdated content or content that is flawed can quickly plummet your website ranking, leading to as many problems overall as you would have had if your website didn't work at all. You should regularly inventory your web content to ensure that it is all current and that it is all working.
Links, in particular, may degrade over time. Sending people to an incorrect web address is terrible, and loading an image that no longer exists is even worse; it looks unprofessional, distracts them and again, sends your web ranking tumbling downwards. An automated system is the best solution for those that want to regularly inventory their web content: it can complete the inventory behind the scenes on a regular basis.
3. Use automation to your benefit.
No one is perfect. Even your developers and your website testers may miss something from time to time, and that is why automated error discovery is so incredibly important. Automated website checking can comb every corner of your website thoroughly and can discover things that others might miss, such as pages that are no longer in compliance with current web standards. These are things that aren't necessarily visible to the human eye, but will be visible to search engines.
4. Conduct speed and stress tests.
Many of the issues that occur with a website won't occur until it is actually pushed to the limit. You may not realize that your server will break under the strain of high traffic, or that your current website is utilizing more memory and processing time than is really viable. Conducting speed and stress tests are the only way to replicate an actual operating environment and ensure that things don't go wrong when you least expect it.
5. Anticipate the things that can go wrong.
Regardless of how much error checking you do, there are things that might go wrong. Anticipating these problems and reacting to them in advance is how you can minimize the damage. Having custom error pages to ensure that clients don't get lost on your site is a fantastic way to make sure that they'll stay on the site should the worst happen.
You should also have contingency plans in place for if the website does go down, and a clear system of responsibilities that tells your team who is responsible for acting if an emergency does occur.
6. Pay attention to your analytics.
Occasionally, something could go wrong and you might have no idea. There are things that could go wrong on your website that might not be noticeable, and paying attention to your analytics data is a fantastic way to ensure that you catch these issues before they get any worse. Your statistics can show you tremendous volumes of information if you let it.
Your bounce rate, as well as the average time your visitors spend on your website, will be able to tell you quite a lot. If these indicators suddenly change, there could be a problem that you don't know about, such as a server load increase that's causing pages to lag.
Maintaining a website can seem like a tremendous chore, but there are many ways that you can make it easier on both yourself and your team. An all-in-one solution like Siteimprove can be used to catch issues before they become a problem. Siteimprove can crawl your website on a regular basis to ensure the fidelity of links, the accessibility of the site and the site's overall quality. It can even provide valuable analytics and alert your entire team should something go wrong.