After you deploy a website, chances are that you will encounter bugs or issues at some point. You might even want to add functionality to the site in the future, and this future functionality could cause issues with the current programming. Just like desktop software, web apps also need consistent testing and bug fixes. You can do it yourself or hire a web developer, but you should always perform periodic checks of your site to test its functionality, performance, and layout.
1. Update Your Content to Keep It Current
Old, stale content loses customers and affects search engine traffic. Whether you own a service or an online store that sells products, you want to keep a blog that keeps content fresh. Think of your blog as an extension of your store and customer service. Most potential customers type questions in the form of queries in search engines. Your blog should answer these questions and offer a solution in the form of your products or service. You can also offer news, but make sure the news is not just rewritten from other sources. Put your own spin on it, your own opinion, or something else that makes the content unique from other news sources.
If you don’t think your grammar and style are good for readers, hire a writer or at least hire an editor. Search engines such as Google evaluate content based on its quality. Google even released an algorithm change called Panda that specifically focuses on a website’s quality content. If the content is too poor, you can face a Google manual penalty. A manual penalty destroys your search engine traffic.
2. Take Backups At Least Weekly
The frequency of your backups depends on the frequency of changes you make to your site. If you upload content every day, you might want to increase backups to every day. Consider the amount of data and potential customers you would lose if your hosting server crashed today. Would you lose thousands of dollars in orders, data and other code changes? If the answer is yes, then you should backup each day.
Don’t forget to backup your site code and your data. Many new webmasters back up code but forget the data, and your data is the lifeblood of your site. Databases contain your customer information, orders and content. In most cases, you can back up the database every day and back up the code only once a week.
3. Periodically Go Through Your Ordering Process
If you own an ecommerce store, get ready for consistent shopping cart changes, customer service and feedback regarding your ordering process and changes that help convert traffic to sales. The only way you can tweak and identify issues is periodically going through the checkout process on your own. When you go through your checkout process, take a step back and think of yourself as the customer. Is the checkout process intuitive? Can you find product easily? Do you come across any errors? Does the checkout system give you clear terms and payment options? All of these affect your sales, especially if your checkout system gives the user errors.
4. Monitor Traffic and User Behavior
How do you know how well you’re doing in search engines? Bing and Google have traffic analysis tools you can use to evaluate traffic and user patterns. You can also download other tools and install them on your site to help you identify popular pages, products, and any errors on your site encountered by your users.
Google Analytics is a common tool that not only lets you watch search engine traffic and user habits, but it also lets you create experiments. Experiments are testing tools you use to test multiple layouts. For instance, suppose you have two layouts and you want to know which call to action (CTA) will work better for your sales. You use Google Analytics experiments to serve a particular percentage of your users the alternative layout. After a few months, you then analyze the conversion rate and statistics for the alternative layout. If the alternative layout performs better, you can safely switch it out with the older layout to improve sales.
5. Make Sure Your Contact Form Works
Many online customers send you feedback or questions anonymously. They look for your “contact us” page or a form where they can enter feedback. Are you sure your contact form is working? Test it periodically to ensure it’s functioning properly. You can lose thousands of dollars in sales and anger customers if you let your contact form malfunction for too long.
6. Test Your Site on Mobile Devices
Plenty of users browse websites from their couch or chair using a mobile device. If you haven’t changed your website layout to cater to mobile users, you miss out on sales opportunities. Most experts say that mobile traffic will soon dominate traffic on the web.
If you cater to mobile customers, check your site on your own mobile device. Some businesses invest in testing tools including tablets and smartphones used by customers. Testing on these devices will lower the amount of complaints you get from mobile customers, and you’ll increase sales from alternative sources from desktops.
Incidentally, you should test your site in all the popular browsers including Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox and Opera. These browsers have mobile versions, but you should test both the mobile and the desktop versions.
These tips will help you intercept any critical errors on your site and avoid frustrating customers. You will save yourself thousands of dollars if you proactively test your site before customers find any issues.