While launching or relaunching your website is an exciting time for a brand, it’s a major undertaking that includes months of brainstorming, planning, designing, coding, writing, editing, and development. After all that work, you’re excited to unveil the finished product; however, if you haven’t tested and retested every single element of your site, it isn’t quite finished yet. The following 10 elements are often some of the most overlooked items on a website—and some of the most important to the success of the entire project.
User experience elements
User-friendly websites are integral for building relationships with potential and existing customers. The experience that visitors have with your online platform is critical to their perception of your brand and the decision about interacting with you that they will eventually make.
1. Forms — In most cases, forms are one of the last components of website design. However, they are one of the most important tools that your site has, as they allow you to capture leads and build lists of interested potential customers. Before you launch your website, ensure that your forms are functioning properly by answering the following questions:
- Does the form align with the page’s content?
- Are the instructions or calls to action clear?
- Are you requesting the right information?
- Is the information you collect from each form going to the right person?
- If you are offering an incentive, is the correct asset in the form header?
2. Social media integration — Social media is invaluable for its contributions to your organization’s online visibility, customer engagement, and brand management. Therefore, these channels should be accurately and prominently represented on your website. Double check to make sure that your social media badges or icons lead to the correct pages. If you are using plugins to encourage users to take a social action on your site, such as to Like your Facebook page, confirm that they are placed properly and function correctly.
3. Favicon — Have you ever visited a website and noticed a unique icon on the address bar and tab? That is called a favicon, and it is a great tool to lend credibility to your site and to further establish your brand. Before you launch, make sure you have created your favicon using your organization’s logo or a recognizable symbol and have implemented it correctly on all of your pages.
Site functionality elements
Website functionality is critical to customer acquisition. Broken or poorly constructed site elements will leave visitors frustrated, leading to higher bounce rates and lower conversion rates.
4. Structure — To boost your prospects’ experience with your website, test your user interface and website architecture. This will allow you to determine if your design is user-friendly. Check that your site has clear browsing paths as well as page headers, progress bars, and breadcrumbs, as they will help users navigate where they are in the system.
5. 404 Error pages — Most internet users have experienced a 404 or Page Not Found error page. While all too common, this visitor disruption negatively reflects the website and brand. Typically, 404 errors are the result of a broken link or an inactive page. Therefore, it is imperative that you regularly check for and clean up broken links across your website.
Even if you are frequently monitoring for broken links, you should still create a custom 404 error page. It should provide an explanation of the error and help visitors find the information they are looking for.
6. Compatibility — With a variety of operating systems and devices available, it’s imperative that users have the same experience across all channels. Test your website’s design and functionality in as many browsers and on as many platforms as possible. You can find a list of compatibility testing tools here.
7. Measurement tools — Your site won’t do you any good if you can’t measure how it’s performing. Before you launch, check to make sure you are using Google Analytics or other analytics tools on the site. This will allow you to accurately measure visits, time spent on page, and other important site metrics.
These final components will help search engines crawl and index your website properly, ensuring that you will be found-and visited-by interested potential customers.
8. Title tags and meta descriptions — While title tags and meta descriptions are basic SEO elements, it’s surprisingly common for these items to be forgotten or pushed off until post-launch. To increase your search engine ranking, you must make sure that every single page has a unique title tag and meta description that align with its content. Title tags are the clickable headlines on search engine results pages (SERPs), so they should give a clear and concise description of the webpage’s content. Your meta descriptions serve to entice visitors, so check that they include keywords, meet the 160-character limit, and sufficiently describe the page to ensure clicks.
9. Site maps — Search engines (and actual users) rely on site maps to find information on your site, especially when other methods fail. You should have a site map that details every page in both XML and HTML formats.
10. Live URLs — Most websites are built on a local server, with a different uniform resource locator (URL). When a site is ready to launch, it migrates to a live server and then changes URLs. Every single URL on your site needs to be tested when the site goes live to make sure that each works and leads to the correct destination. This is important from both a functionality and SEO standpoint.
Creating a website is a major undertaking; there are hundreds of moving parts that need to come together to ensure that it is a well-designed, functional business tool. This list is just a small sampling of the components that you should double- and triple-check before you launch your site. If these elements are in working order, you’ll be well on your way to having a brand new, customer-ready site.
Alexander Kesler is a visionary B2B digital marketer who has been practicing in the field for more than 15 years. As founder and president of inSegment, an innovative digital marketing firm, he leads a team specializing in B2B lead generation, SEO, paid search, content marketing, programmatic media buying, and more.
This article was written by Alexander Kesler from Information Today and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.