We all recognize the State of the Union Address as an annual presentation reporting on the condition of the nation, as well as outlining the legislative agenda for the coming year. The president reports on the current status, but also recommends measures believed to be both necessary and expedient. While you’re brimming with new-year optimism and enthusiasm, now is the ideal time to conduct a thoughtful State of the Website Review, and identify your own necessary and expedient measures.
There’s no requirement to implement many changes simultaneously and immediately, but why not start small by taking stock, and prioritizing the actions you’ll plan to take throughout the coming year?
Free worksheet: State of the Website Review
Check out our free State of the Website Review worksheet … and read on for the highlights.
Can’t view the document in your browser? Click here to download a PDF copy.
1. Start with a deep-dive content review
Begin your website review with a deep-dive into its content. Review content topics such as contact information, staff, products, services, news, events, resources and recognition. Take immediate action on easy-to-fix items, and create a list of needed updates that can be tackled over time.
2. Re-calibrate to your audience
In addition to the material offered, confirm that you’re still presenting it to the right audience.
- Who are you speaking to?
- What are their most pressing problems?
- How can you help solve those pain points?
- What immediate action do you want readers to take?
3. Engage in focused competitive recon
While you’re concentrating on your own work, your competitors are updating and improving their websites, causing you to fall behind in comparison. Part of a strong website review involves reviewing your competitors’ sites to see if they are covering topics that would also be relevant to your readers.
It’s not urgent that you implement features to match every move your competitors make, but it’s worth noting their efforts to do something you’re not doing — and then considering whether those additions make sense for you as well.
4. Ponder a glamour makeover
If your website is still wearing the online equivalent of bell-bottomed jeans and a jacket with oversized shoulder pads, it might be time for a wardrobe adjustment.
As styles and standards change, you should adapt the look and feel of your website — even if the content is perfectly accurate.
For most websites, a redesign or refresh every few years is a reasonable expectation. Visitors are increasingly knowledgeable and can recognize an outdated design style — and some might make purchasing or selection decisions based on that factor.
5. Tackle cross-browser and device testing
Even well-designed and professionally programmed websites can experience issues when browsers are updated. It makes sense to test across all of the major browsers and device options — not just when the site was created, but at some regular time interval after that.
6. Keep up with new hosting options
Fortunately, hosting providers continually improve their product offerings. If your hosting will be up for renewal in the next six months, evaluate whether a newer package would better suit your needs. For example, you might have a WordPress website running well on the cPanel hosting, but if it’s coming up for renewal, it could be the perfect opportunity to upgrade to Managed WordPress.
Moving to a newer package could be more cost-effective than renewing an older package.
7. Scout out security improvements
No one wants to think about hackers lurking in the shadows, but they’re around. As your conduct your website review, consider adding a website security solution. In addition, even if you think it’s not strictly required because you don’t sell anything on your website, it might be a worthwhile step to add an SSL in the new year.
8. Evaluate the need for a management shake-up
Whether you’re managing your own site or have hired someone to take on that responsibility, needs and situations change over time. The start of the new year is a good time to consider whether it’s time to bring in a pro. Or maybe the relationship with your current web pro is not serving you as well as it might, and it’s time to find a new resource. It’s also possible that a new resource or alternative has appeared through hiring, a business partnership, or even your own skill improvement.
9. Consolidate suppliers
Whenever practical, I encourage clients to maintain domain registration, hosting and email with just one vendor, in one account. It makes dealing with billing and tech support easier, you only need to remember one login, and you’re covered with one tech support number on speed dial. If your resources reside with multiple vendors, take stock and identify opportunities for consolidation.
10. Sync up expirations
If you’re planning to renew one or more products or services, take a few extra minutes to contact tech support and sync up renewal dates. Extending your domain registration on a prorated basis to align with hosting renewal lets you deal with all renewals at the same time next year.
Don’t worry about taking action on any one item until you’ve reviewed the possibilities and outlined your own legislative agenda for the coming year. Take your website review slow and steady, by getting organized with our worksheet. Then, go forth with confidence in your ongoing efforts, one improvement at a time.
Also published on Medium.