8 Tips for Maintaining a User Friendly Site in One Hour a Month

8 tips to help you maintain a user friendly websites. Try to spend at least an hour every month checking on these points.

When you create a website, you put time and effort into making sure that every part of it is perfect. You (hopefully) test it thoroughly and go through it with a fine tooth comb to make sure it’s wonderful for your visitors.

However, over time your website can become outdated and unmaintained. It can be like a backyard where the weeds start creeping in around the edges. With just a little extra work and a little extra maintenance, you can prevent the web weeds from creeping in and creating usability issues for your readers.

It’s the start of the month and now is a great time to take an hour out and do some tidying up.

  1. Check To Make Sure Your Links Still Work

    Do you have external links throughout your site? If so, go through and give them all a quick click to make sure that they work. If you have a dead link going nowhere it can be a real turn off to visitors. Make sure too that if you are linking to examples, that they are still relevant and current.

  2. Test Your Contact Form

    Everyone should have a contact form on their site. If you don’t, instead of testing one, build one instead and put a link to it within your footer. Make sure that your contact form works, and if you are using a captcha make sure it’s readable. Perhaps take this opportunity to look through previous contacts from your form and see if you could add in categories to the form and make it more usable.

  3. Edit Your Content

    Proofread your content to make sure you haven’t missed any spelling errors or typos. This is especially important if you had new content in the last month. Could you make anything more concise? Can you edit anything out? Try and take 10% of your new content away.

  4. Check For Broken Icons and Images

    Go through every page to make sure all of your images are where they are supposed to be and are still rendering correctly. Make sure that if they are supposed to link to something external, that those links are also still working. Check and see if you’ve seen an image that would work better in the last month.

  5. Is Your RSS Feed Working?

    Do you have a neat and tidy sign up for an RSS feed button? Are signups working? What does the content in your feed look like? Double check all of your settings to make sure the right information is being pulled in.

  6. Linking to the Home Page from Interior Pages

    On every page of your site, is there an active link back to the home page? This is something that is recommended to keep users from getting lost too deep in your site. The standard here is to have the logo or address for your site in the top left corner and to have that link back to the front page. Take a moment to double check that you have that in place and that it is working.

  7. Test in Recent Browsers

    Browsers change and upgrade all the time. Make sure that your site works in the old and new iterations of browsers like IE 6, IE 7, IE 8, FireFox and Safari. Maybe make it a point to test one new and obscure browser every month to make sure that your site is accessible to everyone. Try something like Browser Shots to view your site in several browsers at once.

  8. Check Your Site Search Logs

    If your site makes use of search, you should have access to the search logs, information about what people are looking for on your site. This information is like buried treasure: use these logs to guide how you’re presenting content on your site. If people are constantly searching for something that’s on your home page, maybe it could be more pronounced? Keep in mind that a well-architected site is iterative.

What other things do you need to check to maintain a usable site?

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Comments

  1. Ted Goas June 2, 2009

    Great list of things often overlooked by designers and developers. This is a simple approach each of us can do to take a break… or something to hand over to an assistant. Also some SEO stuff in there too… nice!

  2. Great tips! But i have a question with the 4th tip. If i have more than 100 pages, how am i going to check all of them for broken icons/images?

  3. @Dicky: I guess just a few at a time. If you click through all of your pages and scan them it shouldn’t take too long. Maybe for you, you’d do half one month and half the next.
    Thanks for reading!

  4. @Dicky: Hey, one of the first tools that came up on google was this gem: http://www.dead-links.com/

    It scours your site for dead links, for you. Give it a go unless someone else has a better suggestion!

    Thanks for reading!

  5. @Dicky: If you have large amounts of pages just take it one category/step at a time. Picture it like eating an elephant, take small bites and chew ;). No one said you had to do it in one sitting its just good practice to regularly check your content. For instance on Dormgear.net, a product I had added a long time hadn’t seen too many orders, so I figured I’d go in and check out my products and making sure I didn’t enter anything wrong. After exploring through my catalog I found at least 2-3 products I had accidentally prevented people from buying my product! Talk about a woops! But by reviewing my content consistently I quickly find these types of mishaps, and leads to a much more tight-knit website.

    Nice article. I highly recommend #8 checking your search logs. As the author mentioned this is much like free gold to your site for content. With my e-commerce solution , lets say a user types in “godl” instead of “gold”… I have search correction as well, which helps with the analytic portion of searching :).

    Regards,
    Dormgear.net

  6. Thank you for article. I took great pleasure to read

  7. Software tools can do some of this checking – but that’s missing the point.

    You need the discipline to visit your own website on a regular basis and try to see it with fresh eyes. One simple way to do this is to just use a different browser – maybe on a different machine. Or get a friend or relative to visit your site and let her navigate while you watch.

    It’s amazing just what you will find – especially if you’ve left it 6 months since your last visit.

  8. Hi,

    Thanks for your good tips!, I will check my site for all these points:)

  9. Surely if you have the right designs/developers working on things such as contact forms and feeds etc. then you should never need to do ‘maintenance’ on this kind of thing. I good bit of code doesnt just stop working!

  10. really thanks.I was looking for this kind of infos on the net.finally after my some search I found here.this article is the right place I search mostly

  11. When working with clients I always have to go over this stuff with them. It is a good list. Thanks for putting it together!

  12. Excellent article, thanks. I really hope IE6 is gone soon!

  13. Please tell me you’re joking… “Test Your Contact Form”.. Guys, I seriously hope you manage to install a functional contact form.

    And that it keeps on working.

    *sigh*

  14. @dicky Firefox has a nice addon called Pinger than will check all links on a page for you

  15. Eric Grint January 28, 2010

    Creating includes pages will minimize errors like in point 6

  16. Another thing you should definitely test is your e-mail templates you´re sending to customers/users. If the e-mail really arrives in the mailbox, if is well rendered, if the links in the e-mail work etc.

  17. yes..the browser compatibility is something a good webdesigner MUST do..
    it’s about looking for a compromise between look and global user experience

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