Is your website fit for purpose?

Make sure your content is in the right shapeI’ve been wrangling with my phone company recently about a brand new phone that has developed a major fault.

The phone company insists on sending the phone for repeated repairs while I believe it should be replaced – preferably with a different model.

The problem is the phone does not work at all, and is clearly not fit for purpose.

But while it’s clear that a lifeless handset is not working as it should, it’s not always immediately obvious what may be wrong with a website when it’s not getting the results you expect it to.

Deliver what you promise

We are more discerning than ever these days about the types of website we visit.

And because we have all become more sophisticated users of online tools, we now have very low tolerance levels.

If a website doesn’t work, give us what it promises or what we want, we have no qualms about going elsewhere. It’s that simple.

Put your website through its paces

So how can you tell whether your own website and content are (or aren’t) fit for purpose?

1) Take a detailed look at your website statistics

Is the number of visitors lower or higher than usual? If your visitor traffic is low, it is worth re-examining your marketing strategy.

Can you see other patterns, for example, is the number of visits to a payment page much lower than the number of visits to the referring product description page?

2) Refine your website navigation

Perhaps your website navigation hinders rather than helps customers. Does it follow a logical user journey? Is it too complex or have too many levels?

Have you included useful navigational items such as breadcrumbs, highlighted menus and a sitemap – to help show people where they are, or how to navigate around the website?

3) Carry out a content overhaul

Is your content holding your website together or conspiring against it? For example, are the sentences too long and complex?

Have you used jargon that no-one will understand? Are your headings, menus and web page names consistent?

Maybe there is so much information on your web pages that it’s difficult for visitors to work out where to begin.

Do the tools work?

While you’re checking your content, why not test out any website functionality you have. In other words, put yourself into the shoes of your visitor.

For example, a problem with your shopping basket or payment tool could be the reason why customers are not completing payments after visiting your product description pages.

These are just a few key tips to help you put the wind back into your website’s sails.

Now, if only I could find a way to quickly resolve that phone handset dispute…

Post written by DEBBIE THOMAS on 1 December 2010.