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However, over time your website can become outdated and unmaintained.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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?