Cleaning up your website
Before redesigning Stickysauce.com I checked the whole site meticulously with a fine tooth comb, yes all 600 + pages, our page impressions ratio went through the roof as I rechecked and rechecked again. But it had to be done.
Armed with a notepad and 2 gallons of coffee I set about cleaning up the pigsty that was my site, or is that being unkind to a pig, is a pigs sty really that untidy? surely not. I know you get the picture, my site was in a mess.
Below is a series of questions that I asked my self regarding the main elements of my site. These questions should give you a good deal of insight into the state of your own site.
Your homepage: - Basically your homepage is the starting point of your site and is more than probably updated quite allot. This is the place where you will find the most mess. How is the general look of your homepage? Is it cluttered? Is it tight? Does it have cobwebs in the corners? What can be dumped? What needs to stay? If your homepage is cluttered then this can unbalance your site and make it hard to read/view properly. If you have lots going on the key is to keep it structured, lay it out properly, give it a sense of purpose.
Now lets delve deeper into your site.
Text: - Your text is very important to your website, more so your visitors. Can they read it? Is it too big? too small? Do you have text displayed in more than 3 different colors throughout your site? Does it get worse...do you have spelling mistakes? grammar mistakes? Ahrr the dreaded punctuation. Every site has spelling mistakes etc. This can look bad and portrays a slack image. Proofing will no doubt be an ongoing chore, but one that must be carried out. If you find spelling, grammar or punctuation mistakes on this article or throughout Stickysauce, feel free to display a wry smile or have a little chuckle because like I said every site has the same problem - unless the webmaster happens to be a professor of English that is, and I aint.
Links: - Like text, links are very important. There is nothing worse for a visitor, but to click on a link only to find a page can not be found message. Does your site have broken links? Do you have cross-linking that is confusing? Sort it out, this will loose you visitors.
Navigation: - Navigating a site should be quick, effortless and true to its path. Does your navigation work? is it misleading? Do you have a navigation system at all?
Content: - Content! The main reason a person visits your site, the main reason a person returns to your site, the main reason a person doesn't return to your site. It depends on the strength of your content really. Is your content any good? Do you have, for example, stock market news on an anti capitalist site? You get my drift. Is your content displayed correctly? Do you have enough content?
General design: - Do people really care about the design of a website, surely if I have got good content and an OK nav system then the design don't really matter does it? Let me tell you, design does matter. It matters because if a visitor comes across your site and someone else's with the same content that you offer, only their site has the better design then they will visit the site with the better design. Why? Attraction = appeal - these all grab the attention, put good content, nav system and what ever else into the equation and you wont go far wrong. The questions are, does your design stand out? Is it unique? It is easy to build a website but designing one is a different matter.
OK I could go on for ever, and I did when taking notes for the redesign of Stickysauce. The above questions are what you need to ask your self. More importantly you need to not only answer them but also act on them. You do not have to go the full hog and do a total redesign, but if your site is in a mess it needs cleaned up badly because people wont tolerate a bad site any more, and that's what a messy site is - a bad old site.
I hope this article was of help.
Chris @ Stickysauce.com - The webmasters resource. If you have any questions regarding this article or Stickysauce in general, feel free to e-mail me.
Note: Webmasters you are free to use this full article for your own website providing that the links and article remain as is.
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