Beginning of the year website check-list

It’s the beginning of the year and time to take a look at you Internet presence. Here is our beginning-of-the year list, “A Three-Point Internet Checklist for Business People”.

1: Is your website up-to-date?

On the Internet, nothing else matters if your website isn’t working for you. Everything else reviles around driving traffic to it. In the real world, you would never start advertising a grand opening when your store is in disrepair, so don’t do it on the Internet either.

Get a notebook and set aside an hour or so to comb through your website. Visit every page, read every word. Look for more than just spelling and grammar errors, look for factual errors.
Has something significant happened this year that you need to record on your “About Us” page or your “Company History” page?

Check your “Our Team” page. Have you made any notable changes in the team? Do you need to add anyone in or remove anyone?

Make sure that phone numbers and addresses are correct and consistent throughout your site.
Your website should inform your users, not confuse them. Make sure the information presented is factual and clear.

Now check the design of your website. Visit your competitor’s websites to get ideas on how to make your website better. Remember, Pablo Picasso said “Good artists borrow, great artists steal”. See how others are using the web to get a better idea of how you can use it better.

If your design was created more than two to three years ago, have your designer review it. The art of website design is constantly evolving. it may be time to incorporate some of the new techniques and technologies into your site. Budget a little time and money to have a sit-down with your designer. It may be that you can’t afford a re-design right now but if you know you want one this year, start talking to your designer now. They may be able to help you spread the cost out over the year by making changes incrementally instead of one big project.

Your website is the cornerstone of your Internet presence; make sure that you understand what the goals are for having a website and that your current website is meeting those goals.


2: Review your Social Media presence to make sure it is working for you

It’s time to sit down and take a hard look at how you are participating in Social Media for your company. Are you an active participant, engaging with your customers and promoting your products or services? Or are you passive, setting up a Face book page, a G+ page and waiting on your customers to find you? Both are valid strategies and both will produce results; the question is which one will produce the results you want?

If you don’t have a strategy for Social Media then participating in it can quickly become an unproductive time-sink. Using the notebook you used yesterday to take notes about your website, write down your goals for Social Media for the coming year.

  • Are you looking to build awareness of your products or services?
  • Do you want to engage with your customers, build good-will, and create evangelists?
  • Are you wanting to drive sales of your products or services more?

None of these goals are mutually exclusive but if you don’t know why you are participating, it’s difficult to figure out how to participate. Once you have set you goals for Social media, start tracking your progress towards those goals.

One great way to do that is a new free application called ThinkUp. If you are well versed in computer technologies, you can install ThinkUp on your own server and use it. If you aren’t comfortable with managing your own server, you can setup a free account with and install ThinkUp as your free application. ThinkUp will help you track your Social Media presence so you can measure your progress to your goals.

WARNING: Installing ThinkUp will take you about 10 minutes. Configuring it should take you about an hour. Getting the most out of it though will take digging into the documentation and understanding the software; this can take some time. If you work with a content strategist, let them help you figure the tool out so that you can track their progress towards your goals.


3: Take a look at your mobile strategy

Mobile is hot and gets hotter each year. The number of people surfing the web from a smart phone or tablet rises daily; are you ready for these potential customers?

If you’ve been following the advice for the 3 point checklist then you’ve already reviewed your website. You know that it is up-to-date both content wise and technology wise. Now take a look at it from a variety of smart phones and tablets. Don’t limit yourself to your favorite brand, your customers may not always agree with you. Make sure that whatever device they are visiting your site with displays it properly.

If you are strictly an on-line company then how your site looks on a phone or a tablet is as important to you as having a well-kept store it to a brick-and-mortar company. Things that work well on desktop browsers, like mouse-overs and hovers, fail miserably on touch devices. Make sure that your website doesn’t get in the way of a positive user experience.

If you are a brick-and-mortar retailer, have you checked your foursquare presence? Are you offering specials for check in? For your Mayor? For specific badges? It doesn’t matter if you like foursquare or not, if your customers are checking in with it, you need to be aware and be a part of the experience. One of our favorite restaurants tweets to us the day after we check in, every time. They want to engage with us, make sure everything was to our liking and let us know that our business is appreciated. The same goes for Google Local and Facebook places. It is up to you to actively participate in these mobile strategies because whether you do or not, your customers may be and if you aren’t part of the conversation, you aren’t influencing them.

If you are a physical store, your mobile strategy is just as important as your content strategy as part of your overall Internet strategy.

Regardless of whether you are on-line of or-offline, if you are ignoring mobile, you are ignoring a fast growing customer base. Find a good Mobile Strategist to help you start using this important channel.

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Can’t you just make a one-page checklist?

I was having coffee with my friend Bill Seaver one day (I do that a lot) and he asked me a question that I found interesting enough to answer here on the blog.

“Can’t you just put all of this into a one page checklist for any website project you want to build?”

Bill has this way of cutting through the crap of an idea to get to the heart.

The answer I gave him was “No”. Actually, it was an emphatic no; a “heck no” with a side order of looking at him like he’s crazy. The reason that so many projects turn into goat rodeos is that there are a lot of details to manage. The development is just one part of the whole. You have to manage the design, the functionality, the content strategy, the data entry, the hosting, the security and so many more details that the thought of a “one-size fits all” checklist is amusing.

In each website project, there are common elements but there are also details that are specific to that particular project. I’ve seen companies that have complex flow charts for their development process, even places that recognize that small projects need a different process than large ones. However, no flow chart or checklist is going to fit every situation. A single checklist to cover all the different scenarios would easily fill a book by itself, and would still be incomplete.

“Avoiding a Goat Rodeo” teaches you the things you need to think about, not the check boxes you need to check. A website is a complex beast, to manage a successful one you need to have the proper respect for it but most of all you need to have the proper mindset. You can’t get either of those onto a checklist.



Want more helpful advice?

Are you looking for more helpful advice? Check out our book, Avoiding a Goat Rodeo. It was written to help non-programmers understand website development. It shows you how to get the website you want.

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