How’s Your Website Experience?
There’s nothing more frustrating than a website that fails, because our visitor’s expectation is 24/7 service. It’s important that you make sure your site is serving your clients well, and that if it does fail, they’re not at a dead end. Here are three ways to ensure your client’s experience on your site is what it should be.
Fix Your Broken Links
First, make sure your site isn’t littered with broken links. If you’re running WordPress, the Plugin Broken Link Checker makes this easy. It will monitor your site for links that no longer work, and point them out to you for repairs. Remember that a link may appear broken if a site is down temporarily, so don’t rush to fix a broken link that just appeared. If it’s still there in a day or two, get on it!
Make Sure it’s Search-able
Your site should offer a search box, typically in the upper right of page. If you don’t have a search box on every page, there should be a search option on the menu. If I come to your site looking for specific information, I want to be able to find it with a minimum of struggle. If your website was created in WordPress, you can simply go to Appearance, Widgets, and make sure the Search Widget is positioned appropriately in your sidebar. Some WordPress themes already have a search box displayed, and you won’t have to add a Search Widget in those.
Improve Your 404 Page
A 404 page is where your visitor lands if they mistype a website address, or go to a page that no longer exists. It’s important, first, to make sure you HAVE a 404 page. Just type your site name followed by a forward slash and a page name that doesn’t exist. Where does the lost visitor end up?
If they do land on a 404 page, does it give them an easy way to get back to the home page, and a way to search for what they’re looking for? At a minimum, that’s what your 404 page should offer.
I encourage you NOT to insult your potential client on this page, as I’ve seen lots that say something like “Looks like you’ve made a mistake”. That’s annoying to them if they did err, and even more so if they didn’t and it was your mistake. Here’s an example of a good 404 page from one of my other sites: http://bootstrapblogger.com/imlost You’ll notice that my Broken Link Checker Plugin is displaying the link to you in red, with a strikethrough, to let you know it goes to a non-existent page. In this case, however, that’s the point! Try it out.
You’ll notice the 404 page you land on apologizes, and offers five ways to find what they’re looking for:
- Encouragement to check spelling
- Link to Contact form for direct help (or report an error)
A further great way to improve your 404 page can be to make it entertaining, particularly if the humor is slanted to your website audience. For some fun examples, check out Mashable’s list of 35 Entertaining 404 Error Pages – complete with pictures.
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