Have Your Eyeballs Seen Your Website Lately?
I had a Gmail setup question, so I went to a couple of gurus’ websites. I was surprised by obvious broken image links (you know those blank boxes), a footer widget that stopped working, and some other display issues I won’t bore you with.
Most of these problems indicate that something has gone haywire under the "hood," probably due to a plugin conflict or upgrading WordPress beyond what the theme supports. Conflicts of one thing or another do happen – it’s good to check your website visually on a regular basis.
Because your website isn’t a print document, you should monitor it after any software/plugin updates. Even if you haven’t changed anything in recent months (yikes), your webhost may have made adjustments that impact your website.
Your Visual Inspection Checklist for Your Website
Before you lament anything that may have gone AWOL, know that websites do not function well when ignored. They do need the "oil changed." It is the nature of the beast.
Here are some tips on what to look for:
- Have someone else check. Have your Virtual Assistant or someone who hasn’t spent a lot of time on the website do a visual check, etc. You might overlook some of the obvious issues because you’re familiar with your own website.
- Check your pages and posts. You don’t have to read line by line, you’re just scanning for anything that looks "off." Especially pay attention to the "Blog" page that summarizes your posts, your contact page form, portfolio pages (displaying a lot of aligned images), calendar pages… anything that uses special functions (sliders especially break easily).
- Sidebar check. Do they look okay, does everything appear as it should? Click through several pages to verify they are still working. Conflicts with third party widget plugins are common and usually among the first to break.
- Footer check. Is your copyright date 2015? FYI, if you have WordPress credits and a theme credit, you should edit those out. Stick with the basics: your business name, city and state, and a link to your contact form.
- Images check. Go page by page (especially top level pages on your menu bar). When inspecting for images, first clear your browser cache (clear history). Websites will store images and other assets locally on your computer so be sure you’re getting a live view. This way you can see immediately if your images are still aligning correctly, etc.
- Check for broken links. If you want to save time, install the broken link checker plugin (if your webhost allows). Run it and once you have your report, go fix those links or reinsert missing images, etc. Once you’re done, uninstall the plugin because it’s a huge resource pig and will slow down your website.
- Browser check. The new Microsoft Edge browser is coming July 29! My favorite service already has it available. I use Browser Stack – love them!
- Mobile device check. My 88-year-old dad recently got his first smartphone! Everybody has one these days and for many, it’s their primary device! Check your website with an online responsive web design tool!
Hopefully everything looks as it should or better yet, showed you something you need to change. Websites are best when not treated as static print brochures, but instead evolve to meet the needs of your clients.
Need some help fixing some stuff that has gone awry? Give us a shout!
Nancy Seeger, the owner of Arts Assistance, believes website design is part of the marketing toolkit that attracts your audience. Their roster of clients includes a GRAMMY artist, coaches, small businesses and non-profits. Get web design insider tips to more easily manage your website and attract your audience.