4 Do-It-Yourself Ways to Ensure Your Website is Up, While Everyone is On

Website Audit Graphic

In an effort to stay home, stay safe and stay healthy we’re looking to online platforms to stay sane. According to reports, web traffic has spiked 20% in one week and we’re likely to see that number spike as more shelter-in-place and lockdowns are put into place. With that said, although we’re not able to keep our brick-and-mortar doors open, we can keep our digital homes up while everyone is on.

Many of you have been home for at least a week so you’ve bleached your bathrooms, cleaned your cabinets and wiped your baseboards. But what about your digital home – your website? You’ve probably not done a deep clean of it in quite some time. Well, you’re in luck. This blog and complementary checklist offer a do-it-yourself cleaning list for digital housekeeping.

Go forth and make your website shine. And if you have any questions, we’re always here to help:

Write, write baby

  1. Writing proper content for the web
    • It is well researched that most users do not “read” on the web, they merely skim the pages of content. Writing successful copy for the web is thus a bit different than you were probably taught.
    • You should always be trying to write less than more. The general rule of thumb for taking existing content and adding it to the web is to take the content, cut it in half, and then cut it in half again.
    • Always make sure you are breaking up content by using bulleted or ordered lists when applicable. This type of content is easily skimmable and much more readable than a paragraph of text.
    • Always stick with proper Heading structure and hierarchy on the page and break up chunks of content with new headings. There should only ever be one Heading 1 tag for an article or page of web content. This is almost always the title of the page or post. The rest of the article should be broken up with Heading 2, 3, and 4 where applicable and following the hierarchy.
    • You should not be choosing headings based on “what they look like”, but based on the actual content structure of the page.

Links, but make them work

  1. Creating Meaningful Contextual Links
    • You should NEVER use “click here” or “here” or anything similar for links as these hold zero contextual meaning to your users (and to search engines!). A user skimming your page for links will have no idea what “click here” means without backtracking and reading all of the content around it for context.
    • Instead always make your links meaningful and contextual. Instead of “Click here to download our brochure”, rewrite things to make the link contextual and meaningful “Download our brochure” It is much better for your users and also much better for SEO purposes.
  2. Broken link checks
    • Have you deleted a lot of pages or moved pages around over time on your website? Chances are that you might have a lot of broken links on your site as a result. This will happen if you linked to a page in an article, blog post, or page at some point and then deleted/moved that page. The existing link in the article when clicked, will now no longer work and result in a 404 error page saying the page can’t be found
    • You can easily check and find your 404 pages through Google Search Console if you are using Google products for Analytics and the like, or you can always install a plugin directly to your WordPress site as well. Broken Link Checker is one example.

Pictures are worth 1,000 words

  1. Adding Proper alt text
    • Any image you upload to your site should have proper Alternative Text or alt text added. Alt text is required for ADA compliance and is also useful for search engines and in case your image has an issue and cannot be displayed. Alt text should simply be a very short description of what the image is. Examples could include “people shopping in Downtown City Name”, “a group of people enjoying dinner at Soandso Cafe”, “Some Company’s Logo” etc.
  2. Using the right format
    • Currently for the web, the two most common image formats are .JPG and .PNG.
    • .GIF should never be used unless it is needed for simple animations. PNGs offer much better compression and file size when needed
    • .JPG or JPEG format should be used for any photograph or image with detail. Almost all photos on a typical website will end up being JPG.
    • .PNG are useful for simple graphics that only have a few colors. A logo for example, or a simple pie chart. In these cases these images will produce a much better file size and clarity if saved as an 8bit PNG file. .PNG are also necessary if you need transparency as part of your image. For example if you have your logo that you want with a transparent background, this should be a 24bit PNG graphic with transparency.
  3. Compressing properly
    • Unless your site is a Photography website or another photo heavy site where image quality is of utmost importance, you should never be uploading images straight from your digital camera or phone. These images will be extremely large file sizes and are sized more for printing. It is always recommended to resize and compress your image in editing software like Photoshop or alternatives before uploading.
    • We recommend a maximum of 1900px wide for almost all photos and to compress it with 65% compression as a JPG using Photoshop’s “Save for Web” option.

Security, Security

  1. SSL certificates
    • Is your site secure with an SSL? If not, now might be a good time for you to set one up. For the past couple of years Google and other browsers have been prioritizing sites that have an SSL certificate and are encrypted. You can quickly and easily tell by visiting your website and looking for the padlock icon in the url bar. If it is green, or closed it means you are successfully running an SSL and using https://yourwebsite.com.
  2. Plugin Updates
    • With WordPress one of the most common areas where sites can be compromised is from outdated plugins that have known vulnerabilities that are being exploited. Therefore it is always wise to make sure you continually update your plugins whenever a new version is available. Coming soon in WordPress 5.5 this will be a feature built into WordPress that you can turn on for each plugin to automatically do it.
  3. WordPress Updates
    • Similar to above, keeping WordPress up to date is extremely important not only to receive new features and bug fixes, but also to fix any security vulnerabilities that may have been revealed.

Download the checklist and help your website shine!