Is YOUR Website Ready for the Public?
© 1999, by Harmony Major
It truly does pain me to see the number of "business" websites
out there that just don't belong. If you conduct a search on Alta
Vista for "home business tips," I guarantee you you'll see at
least six out of the top ten listings that are breaking some of
the most important web design rules, and yet others that wreak
bloody HAVOC on your eyes.
You know the ones I'm talking about. They make you cringe; they
make you holler; they make you glad that YOUR site doesn't look
like that grade school horror show ... Or DOES it?
And, how do you go about finding out?
As much as we'd all like to think that our Web design skills are
Utopian perfection, in actuality, they leave more than a little
to be desired. A website consultation is a very good and final
way to make sure that a website is ready to be released to the
public ... and to eliminate the embarrassment that's sure to come
if we don't wise up and find a good consultation service.
Make sure that you choose a top quality service to maximize your
website's potential for success. Here are some of the things that
any website consultant should be able to tell you when you
request their service:
a.) Meta Tag Diagnosis
Are your meta tags formatted correctly? This will involve looking
at the meta tags on your web pages, and letting you know if you
have any errors that search engines will penalize you for, (like
if your meta tags have too many characters in them, if you've
repeated keywords too many times, etc.).
The consultant should be able to give you an idea of whether or
not you can expect a high placement in search engines with your
meta tag format. The meta tag diagnosis should also include ways
to improve your tags, correct any penalties, and get you a higher
placement in search engines if your tags aren't already optimized
b.) Website Load Time
Do your pages load fast enough? Are your images causing your
pages to load slower than necessary? Load time is very important,
because a visitor to your site won't wait more than a few seconds
for your pages to load. You could be losing valuable visitors
with a slow-loading website.
The load time check should tell you approximately how long your
pages are taking to load, what could be causing this, and how you
can fix it. This check should also include any tips that you can
use in the future to keep your pages loading as fast as possible.
c.) Navigational System
Do you provide your visitors with an easy way to get around your
website, or will they get lost easily? A confusing navigational
system will cause you to lose valuable visitors (customers!), and
is imperative for a successful website. The navigational system
diagnosis should let you know if your system is effective, and if
not, give several ways to improve it. However, there is usually
at least one way to improve ANY navigational system to thoroughly
ensure that it's as easy as possible to use.
d.) Content Value of Your Website
The "content" value is simply how valuable the content or
information on your site is to your visitors. A high content
value means that your site is very informative, has fresh,
updated, and original information, and gives your visitors a
reason to come back. This test should also tell you how to
maximize the effectiveness of your website content, and perhaps
even where or how to find information that your visitors will
e.) Browser Compatibility
This very important test will tell you if your website is being
viewed properly in all of the major browsers. A lot of websites
aren't optimized for Netscape's browser, due to all of the
plugins that Netscape's customers may or may not have, and also
because of the unique (crazy!) way that Netscape can tend to read
your HTML code.
One small error that would be overlooked by Microsoft's browser
can cause Netscape's browser not to even display your pages! The
browser compatibility diagnostics test should also be able to
tell you how to properly optimize your website for maximum
compatibility in most browsers.
f.) Spelling and Grammar
Do you have a slew of spelling and grammatical errors? This
diagnostics check will let you know. Although you may proofread
your website for errors, it's very likely that there are still
quite a few that you overlooked. It's much harder to proofread
your own work. When your brain knows what a word is SUPPOSED to
be, it can tend to make your eyes read it that way, regardless of
what it really says.
You can help to eliminate this problem by asking one of your
colleagues or friends to proofread your site for errors before
you release it to the public. This will cut down even more on the
amount of spelling and grammatical errors that you'll find.
However, the spelling and grammar diagnostics test should point
out any existing errors that may have been overlooked, and may
even offer suggestions to correct the errors.
g.) A Continuous Theme
Does your homepage have a myriad of different ideas, concepts, or
programs that have absolutely nothing to do with the main focus
of your website? Are all of your pages related to one similar
topic, or is your site a veritable cesspool of unrelated ideas?
Most visitors will come to your site for one reason only -- the
reason that you advertised to get them there! Don't confuse them
by having tons of unrelated content on your website, or you'll be
sure to turn them away. This diagnostics check should tell you if
your website sticks to a constant theme, or skips from subject to
subject. It should also give you a few tips and pointers to get
you moving in the right direction.
Now that you know all of the things that a quality website
consultation will tell you, are you going to spend weeks trying
to optimize your own website? Or, are you going to invest a few
extra dollars into the success of your business by hiring a
professional website consultant?
If a professional website and image is important to you, this
will prove to be a very small and reasonable investment --
especially when you could potentially waste hundreds of dollars
later on down the road on tweaking and perfecting your own soon
to be "out-of-control" site.
NOTE: For a few of the categories above, you can use a free service to evaluate your site, like the one at http://NetMechanic.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Excerpted from 'Simply, eBusiness', Harmony Major's online business and
marketing startup guide. Learn how to start an online business, acquire money-making online marketing techniques, and profit like never before! Get the guide at