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  • Writer's pictureTaha Habib

Before You Hit “Publish”: A checklist to make sure your website puts your best foot forward

Ever felt a rush to publish your website because it just seems like something essential to add to your brand? Although having a landing space to which all information shared on your social media link back is important, it’s not always necessary for all brands. Well, at least not every brand needs an elaborate website to meet their business or organizational objectives. However, if you believe that your relationship to your customer or audience hinges upon more than social media, you might want to wait and make sure you have gone through this checklist before you hit Publish.

1 Establish how your website ties into your overall brand/business objectives

Like we said before, maybe your customers and audience don’t need a website to connect to you. So what is the purpose of your website? What are some marketing or communications objectives that this website is achieving?

Having a website can be a great way to showcase your portfolio. It can house all the necessary long-winded text information that your audience will need to learn more about your organization or your product. It can also be useful for housing resources, tools and documents you want your customers or your audience to access and/or download.

Are you planning marketing, fundraising, outreach campaigns that would require signups, registration and also a space to hold all relevant information? The website is an amazing way to showcase your brand’s essence.

So ask yourself what is in it for the user and what is in it for you. If you’re still not sure if you need a website, here is an article to walk you through the pros and the cons.

2 Choose your platform wisely

Not every website platform is right for you. Your selection criteria will depend on multiple factors. Figuring out what you really need your website for will help you narrow down all the platforms and their attached packages — because the options can get overwhelming very quickly.

Does your website need minimal work and content and therefore you can opt for a free platform? Do you have a budget dedicated to web development, add-ons, and maintenance, in case you need to invest money into your website? Do you or your team have coding skills (HTML, CSS) that will allow you to make many customized decisions or do you want something that is easy to use for people with minimal tech-savviness? Will you be able to have yourself or someone on the team dedicated to taking care of the website, updating the content, creating new pages as needs grow? Is there a need for email marketing? Is there a need for multi-language and translation features? There are additional costs associated with what you want to do and what you want to get out of the website.

Additionally, once you have identified your objectives, ask yourself if you need a website or is there an app that can offer you these services through a third-party media. For example, if you’re a company selling products, maybe you can sell through Shop or Instagram. If you’re a gym and want to register new members, you can use PushPress to get your clients to sign up for all the classes and promote the content and information through social media.

Need recommendations? Click here for some comparisons. Click here for a list of more considerations.

3 Check all the pages when selecting a template

Ah. You’ve created a whole website thanks to the user-friendly templates that many platforms like Wix, SquareSpace, and WordPress offer. You spent a lot of time on the home page, it’s beautiful. The about page is also filled with content that your audience will be happy to read. Before you hit publish all and link the website to your email signature, social media bio, Linktree, you’re going to have to make sure that ALL the sample text from all the pages that are live on your website are also replaced, or removed.

Not double checking all the pages activated through the website template is a mistake so many people make when rushing to publish their site. A professional website pushing online marketing and online product management doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence from prospective clients when half their live pages show placeholder text (Lorem ipsum).

Firstly, double check if all the pages in the template are needed, if they apply to you. If they don’t, you can remove them or hide them in the backend. If they do make sense to have, make sure the text is content you really want displayed and have written yourself.

Additionally, ensure that your brand colours, typeface, tone, voice all carry through your entire website. Before you even build your website, don’t forget to create your StyleGuide and Brand Book and apply it to every inch of your website.

Platforms like Frontify and Canva are awesome at getting you started on your StyleGuide.

4 Evaluate the website through a user-centric lens

Your information should always be the fewest amount of clicks away. The most important pages should be at the top navigator and the most important calls to action (CTAs) — Donate, Contact Us, Shop — should be in a button at the top to drive your audience where you need them the most. Your top navigator pages should also appear linked at the footer of your website with your contact information and other important reads, like your privacy policy and user terms.

Your homepage should read like a preview page for all the other pages linked to it. It should have some insight of the about page, some information about the types of services, some idea of what your prime features are. In fact, the layout of your homepage should be the topic of your customer or audience feedback survey!

If you’re a non-profit or a charity, your audience should not wait to get to your about page to know about your mission. It should be clearly stated on your homepage. The less time your audience spends on figuring out where to go, the more useful your website becomes.

Make sure all the links work properly and are connected to the correct destination. If you uploaded documents that you want your audience to download, test out what that looks like from the client’s viewpoint. What is asked of them when they click download? Are you asking for their email address? What is the message they are receiving when their sign up for a newsletter? Have you automated the written messages on the backend for any forms that need to be filled out?

Designing your website should come from knowing your audience and their needs to a T. Is your audience multi-lingual? Does it make sense for you to offer your content in more than one language? If so, you need to make sure that most of your content is written and offered in the languages that your audience will like to access it.

Find more tips to making your website more user-friendly.

5 Test out your website in the mobile format

Nowadays with everyone accessing information through their smartphones, it’s crucial for you to ensure that your website is compatible to the mobile format. Think about it, when you look at the site sessions on the backend of your website, you can often see that mobile sessions and desktop sessions come neck and neck, with mobile sessions sometimes surpassing desktop users. It’s high time to pay attention to what your website looks like on a phone. Many platforms offer an Editor suite where you can build the layout and the content of your website and switch from desktop to mobile view to see how things look on either devices — use it.

If your website’s purpose is to register people, as volunteers, donors, participants, it’s essential that the mobile version of your website works as smoothly as the desktop version. This is especially true if you are recruiting on the go, at an event, etc.

Want to check out if your website passes the mobile-friendly test? Click here.

6 Make your website visually accessible

That’s right! There are barriers to accessibility online. Maybe you’ve noticed that government websites are not the prettiest. They are very text heavy. What they very often lack in design and style, they make up for the accessibility of having it completely usable by screen readers for visually impaired individuals. People with visual disabilities and those who use text to speech screen reader programs (like NaturalReader, Talkify, TTSReader) rely on the legibility of the content on a webpage and document. For many, that means pages with text content mostly put in image format (png, jpeg, etc.) are not accessible to those who have programs that do not interpret text on images.

If and when you are incorporating images with text on them, make sure you take the time to rewrite the text visibly under the image or rewrite the text on the alt text box. If you want to go a step further, you can also describe what is happening in the image to those who rely on text to speech readers.

Another really easy thing to think of for accessibility is the colour contrast of text and background on your pages. That impacts legibility by a lot, and it’s something you can for sure control on the backend.

Here are some other tips to improve your website’s accessibility grade.

We hope this check list helps you if you’re thinking of building your company, business, organization a website or if you’re looking to evaluate your existing website.

Let us know what you think of this article in the comments. If you want our support in making the right choice and building the website that fits your brand, contact us today!

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