Friday, November 16, 2007

evaluating your blog or website

At least once a year, you need to look at your blog, ecommerce site, or corporate web presence, and hate it.

Yes, hate it.

Be harsh, hostile, and hideously mean-spirited. I speak roughly to get your attention. But try a scathing approach to your own site.

Try to think of the worst comment any enemy, opposing party, or competitor could possibly make about your blog or website.

What your site's weakest point? Where is it most vulnerable to critique? The copy? The images? The ads? The functionality? The lack of multi media? The lack of user input or social networking tools? The stale content?

Criticize your website, wiki, forum, or blog ruthlessly, unmercifully, combatively. Pretend it belongs to a competitor. What unbridled, destructive criticism can you muster against your own site? Can it withstand a brutally honest attack?

Is your website as organized as it needs to be? Or are important navigation tools and popular items a bit difficult to find?

What's the #1 thing your audience, fans, customers, readers want to do at your site? Is this prominent? Is the task easy? Is the procedure clear? Do users get a "Your submission succeeded" or similar affirmation message when a task is achieved correctly?

How fresh is your content? Do you have news items you can add frequently, with keywords and links and relevance to your audience, presented from their perspective, with their needs and interests in mind?

Do you have enough new photos of your products in use solving problems for users?

Is your About page more than a bland mission statement? Do you have a history of your company, with highlights of proud moments?

Do you guide customers to the best product for their specific individual needs?

Do you have a product comparison chart? A competitor comparison chart?

Do you provide educational material, that makes your site so valuable, customers bookmark it as a favorite? Do you understand how providing insight, expertise and helpful tips will position you as a trusted thought leader? Are you devoting enough time and effort to this vital component?

Do you think or know your audience likes video or audio? Are you providing any multi media, via links to good content, or embedded players so they can view it or hear it (consume it) right on your site?

How about your design, logo, colors?

Have you looked closely at your copy, text, wording? Is your written communication online as clear and exciting as it can possibly be? Are you keeping search engines and keywords in mind on every page of your site?

Frankly, many websites and blogs are ugly, amateurish, dysfunctional, badly coded, or poorly written. Many fail to use effective title tags and other SEO methods to drive search engine traffic to their site.

Even web designers and developers struggle with their company sites and personal blogs. Sometimes the smartest folks have sites that don't do their ideas justice, or even contradict their own expertise. It's not always easy to swallow your own medicine.

We all have blindspots when it comes to our business, and our websites often could be improved significantly.

Treat it like a health problem.

Do the work yourself, or hire a professional, but get your website or blog up to speed with how you need to present your company.

Your website is, in most cases, your most important public relations, marketing, customer education, and sales tool.

Make sure it shines.

1 comment:

Kevin M. Keating said...

Great post. Words of wisdom. This, and your recent post about pitching a blog site to a client, are wonderful, bookmarkable pages. Rock on.