Archive for the ‘Website Tips’ Category
When it’s time to write a blog post, do you search for fresh ideas — but nothing comes to mind? Here’s how to repurpose content.
If you come up empty-handed, the solution might be at your fingertips. Instead of spending time writing entirely new copy, you can breathe fresh life into EXISTING content — your articles, blog posts, webinar transcripts, book chapters, and worksheets. It’s easy to repurpose your existing content.
Repurposing and “recycling” older articles is perfectly fine — as long as the topics are evergreen (still relevant).
It surprises me when my clients express reluctance to repurpose content they wrote years ago, for example, older case studies or blog articles. If the topic is evergreen, the content may need just a bit of editing — a tweak here, a twist there — to be updated.
Perhaps it’s my South Dakota roots, but whenever I write about the topic of how to repurpose content, the word FODDER leaps to mind.
One definition of fodder is “coarse food for livestock.” Ok, that definition does not apply! But this one does: “raw material.”
Here’s why I like the word FODDER …
Early in my corporate marketing career, I figured out how to repurpose content. I had to — it was a matter of survival!
On any given day, I faced deadlines related to marketing brochures, direct mail, public relations, white papers, case studies, tradeshows, sales presentations, websites, online newsletters, and advertising.
Since I was juggling so many projects at once, I mastered the art of leveraging and repurposing content to save time and meet deadlines.
Long ago, I began looking at the copy I wrote as much more than one-off content. Instead, I viewed everything I wrote as potential fodder for a future project. Today this skill comes naturally for me.
Are you a solopreneur (professional speaker, marketing consultant, business coach, life coach)? Or do you own a different type of business? Or do you wear the marketing hat for a larger company? If so, there’s a good chance you write a lot of unique content. This means there’s a good chance you have plenty of FODDER at your fingertips!
Follow 2 easy steps to “recycle” and repurpose content.
Step 1: Use this checklist to identify ALL the places your written content exists.
- Marketing tools: Website, speaker one-sheets, brochures, sales sheets, and compiled testimonials
- PowerPoint or Keynote presentations and transcripts for keynotes, videos, webinars, and podcasts
- Handouts, worksheets, tip sheets, and checklists
- Social media posts and lists of discussion topics
- Published articles, case studies, and white papers
- Blog articles
- Email newsletters
- Opt-in box giveaway item (aka lead magnet, opt-in bribe, or freemium)
- Your books
- Your information products
- Other: __________________________________
Step 2: Take a fresh look at how you can repurpose your existing content — the fodder at your fingertips!
Let’s brainstorm a bit to spur some ideas. Take a minute to think broadly about the content you have written, per the above list. How can you “recycle” and repurpose your existing content?
Here’s an example: You could repurpose a webinar transcript into:
- Blog article or article series
- Guest blog article
- Email newsletter article
- Article to be published in a trade magazine (printed or online)
- Chapter for your next book
- Information product
- Opt-in box giveaway item, perhaps distilled into a worksheet or tip sheet
- Raid tidbits and share daily tips on Facebook and other social media sites
Instead of spending time writing entirely new articles, you can repurpose content by breathing fresh life into your existing, evergreen copy.
I’ve been transforming “fodder” — already written content — into polished, vibrant, relevant copy for decades. I’m happy to help YOU transform your transcripts, blog posts, email newsletter articles, presentations, video scripts, handouts, worksheets, and other existing copy into NEW and UP-TO-DATE content.
Do you need fresh ideas and a bit of guidance?
If you need writing or editing support to repurpose your existing content, call me at 719-685-1108 or pop an email to Patrice@PatriceRB.com. Remember, I offer a free, 30-minute consultation.
They procrastinate, get stressed out, get writer’s block, and suffer through the first draft. Their editing process is more “critical” than “critique.” The words do not flow, and they are NOT having a good time.
For me, thanks to 3 decades of marketing and copywriting experience, writing marketing content comes fairly easily. It’s still a hefty project, mind you. But (thankfully) there’s not a lot of pain and suffering involved.
Right now, I’m immersed in writing several sales landing pages. The copy is flowing (thankfully). I just realized the reason why it’s flowing: Over the years, I’ve internalized these 3 secrets to writing marketing content.
Here are my 3 secrets to writing marketing content:
Secret #1. Follow the “itch-and-scratch” approach.
This is an extremely useful tool to have in your writing toolkit. Here’s how it works:
THE ITCH: Write the first few sentences of copy to directly address your prospects’ needs, challenges, or struggles.
THE SCRATCH: Write copy that directly speaks to the results – the relief they get – with the products or services you deliver.
Here’s an example:
THE ITCH: Are you embarrassed by your outdated website and mismatched marketing tools?
THE SCRATCH: Team with our skilled designers to create polished, professional marketing collateral, including a strategic website. You’ll enjoy this exciting, stress-free process. And you’ll love the results!
Secret #2. Use the word YOU.
Writing sentences that start with the word “YOU” helps to clearly present benefit messages. This is a must when writing ALL types of marketing content including website copy. (Note that you are “speaking” to an individual person, not a group of people magically reading your content in unison.)
Here’s an example:
In this interactive workshop, your sales reps will learn a proven process to hit their sales goals, month after month.
“YOU” is a hardworking little word. It practically guarantees that your marketing content clearly presents “what you get” – the benefits and results your prospects will receive when they team with you.
Secret #3. Tap into the reader’s emotions.
As I thought about one of the sales landing pages I was about to write, I realized that prospects who need this product are feeling confused, stuck, and overwhelmed. As I wrote the copy, I addressed these feelings from beginning to end. Essentially, I kept my finger on the pulse.
When writing marketing content, take a minute to think deeply about your potential buyers. How are they feeling? What are the emotions they struggle with – the emotions that might drive them to purchase the particular service or product you are selling?
Here’s a helpful list of emotions, as a start:
Frustrated, overwhelmed, confused, unclear/foggy, feeling stuck, feeling pressured to make the right choice, scared, feelings of inadequacy, flustered, floundering, fear of wasting time, fear of wasting money, fear of failure, fear of making the wrong choice
Follow these 3 secrets to writing marketing content for your next project. Hopefully, there will be no pain and suffering – and a lot more flow!
A colleague asked for feedback on a web page she wrote for a business in the healthcare industry. It was well written, and her main point was clear. However, the content focused on the business, not the reader. In 6 paragraphs, the words we and our appeared 18 times. The words you and your were few and far between.
Why was this an issue? Because the content stressed “Here’s what we do.” The benefit messages – “Here’s what you get” – simply were not clear.
The reader would need to puzzle out: “This business says it offers X. Now I must determine if that will provide the benefits or results I’m looking for.” This may not seem too difficult, but guess what? Most likely, the reader will not take time to connect the dots.
In website content and other marketing copy, you must clearly spell out the benefits and results the reader (your prospect) will receive from your products or services.
I encouraged my colleague to shift her content from “WE-focused” to “YOU-focused.” For example:
- WE-focused: As a Level II trauma center, we provide specialized care, and we can handle any emergency.
- Rewritten to be YOU-focused: In an emergency, you can rely on the specialized care of our Level II trauma center. (Notice that the content speaks directly to the reader.)
Here’s another example, commonly found on the “About Us” page on a business website:
- WE-focused: We have provided reliable, award-winning products and services since 1999. Plus, we offer 24×7 customer service.
- Rewritten to be YOU-focused: Since 1999, customers like you have turned to us for reliable, award-winning products and services. Plus, if you need assistance, our 24×7 customer service team is always here for you. (Again, the content speaks directly to the individual reader.)
TIP: Using the word “YOU” helps to clearly present benefit messages – a must when writing website content and other marketing copy.
When you put the focus on your reader, he or she will instantly grasp your benefit messages without needing to puzzle out “How does this relate to me? Can this business meet my needs? Should I contact this business, or should I look elsewhere?”
QUICK QUIZ: Is your writing WE-focused or YOU-focused? Take this simple test to find out!
- Print a page from your website.
- Grab a red pen. Circle the words we and our in red. Now count them, and write down the number.
- Grab a blue pen. Circle the words you and your in blue. Now count them, and write down the number.
How did you do?
Ideally, you’ll have at least twice the number of the words you and your versus we and our. If not, rework sentences to incorporate the word “YOU.”
Remember, using the word “YOU” puts the focus on your reader (your prospect) – not on your business.
“YOU” is a hardworking little word. It practically guarantees that your website content and other marketing copy will clearly present “what you get” – the benefits and results your prospects will receive when they team with you.
Write marketing and website content that is visual (something the reader can picture) to ensure your message is clear and memorable.
Early in my career, an experienced writer advised me to write copy that enables readers to visualize a picture. I’ve boiled it down to this phrase:
“If they can’t SEE it, they won’t get it.”
In other words, if your readers cannot form a picture in their mind:
- They might gloss over your words.
- They might not fully comprehend the meaning.
- They might not remember your message.
How do you write marketing and website content that is visual and memorable?
Seek to use as much visual language in your writing as possible, particularly in examples, similes, and metaphors – and by using powerful verbs. Try to make your content tangible, almost “touchable.” If you close your eyes, can you see a picture?
Even if you’re writing about a topic that is fairly abstract, conceptual, or technological, you can still strive to make a point with visual words and ideas.
This copy is for an imaginary speaker who leads workshops to improve team communication and productivity.
“Poor communication in a team contributes to rework, missed deadlines, and conflict. Enhanced communication among team members directly results in enhanced productivity.”
Notice how you gloss over the message?
“Poor communication in a team is like tossing a wrench into the works, which leads to mishaps and general mayhem! The results are reworked projects, missed deadlines, and conflict. On the other hand, clear and consistent communication leads to a highly productive team that runs like a well-oiled machine.”
If you close your eyes, can you see a picture?
“Many personality tests given to teams offer confusing results and advice. This workshop presents a new personality test that identifies key strengths to show how each person is an asset to the team.”
“Many personality tests given to teams offer murky results with nebulous advice. This workshop presents a new personality test that shines a spotlight on key strengths, illuminating how each person is an asset to the team.”
It’s YOUR turn. Take 2 minutes to complete this quick exercise. Rewrite the first sentence to make it more visual. Post your sentence on this blog – I’d love to read your idea!
“Personality conflicts in the workplace are damaging and counterproductive – and distract from strategic projects. In this workshop, your team will learn 5 steps to resolve personality conflicts.”
(See the bottom of this blog post for my solution.)
Some final advice …
When you write marketing and website content, don’t use similes and metaphors ad nauseam. Also, avoid mixed metaphors. Here’s an example: “On our cruise, we went overboard on the buffet. To work off the extra calories, we joined every exercise class and sweated like horses.”
Here’s my solution for the EXERCISE:
“Personality conflicts in the workplace can crush team spirit, sabotage productivity, and overthrow strategic projects. In this workshop, your team will learn 5 steps to resolve personality conflicts.”
Coming up next: How to edit marketing and website copy for visual appeal and to make it more readable
It’s important to get customer testimonials – this helps you get new clients.
Testimonials are social proof. Testimonials from your clients prove that your expertise makes a difference. That’s why it’s critical to get customer testimonials, and include them in your website, speaker one-sheet, and other marketing tools. Testimonials DO help to win new clients.
But it can be challenging to get customer testimonials!
Your clients love teaming with you. When you ask for a testimonial, they happily agree. BUT …
- They are crazy-busy, and they don’t get around to it.
- It’s awkward to keep reminding and pestering them.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone! This is a universal challenge for solopreneurs and small business owners.
Here’s the problem: You are giving them an action item.
When you ask for testimonials – and they agree – you are giving clients an action item. They intend to write a glowing testimonial for you. However, that action item is not a high-priority task. It may literally get lost in a sea of scribbled notes on their desk!
Here’s the solution: 5 ways to ask for – and get – customer testimonials.
1. Jot down notes when clients rave, then write the testimonials for them – This is my favorite way to get customer testimonials. Often, a client will enthusiastically share comments when we’re on the phone together, such as “Your marketing advice hit the nail on the head…” When your client gushes, grab a pen and jot down notes. You can polish the comments a bit, then email the testimonial and ask for permission to use it.
2. Convert emailed comments into a testimonial – Client thank-you notes make great testimonials! Sometimes, you may need to edit an email thank-you note to transform it into a hardworking testimonial. If so, write the draft testimonial and ask your client to review it. Often, clients will elaborate on the comments and give you an even better testimonial.
3. Request an audio testimonial – Schedule a 10-minute conference call with your client and use the “record” function. Then you (or your assistant) can conduct a brief interview. Add the audio interview on your website’s “Testimonials” page, along with a written snippet or the full transcript.
4. Call and ask for a testimonial, on the spot – This tip is especially useful when you’re updating your website. Simply call your clients, explain that you’d love a testimonial, and ask if they have a minute. Then discuss the project’s results while you write (or type) notes. Edit your notes into a brief testimonial. Ask clients if they want to read and approve the written testimonial.
- Bonus #1: You’ll get enough information to write a case study.
- Bonus #2: You’ll reconnect with “old” clients. You can rekindle your relationship and possibly identify new opportunities to work together.
5. If you’re a speaker, include a testimonial request in your contract – Professional speakers often include a note in their contract, requesting that the meeting planner provide a testimonial after the event. Of course, immediately after your talk, you can capture attendees’ rave reviews on your smartphone’s video camera.
BONUS idea for those who present workshops – Do you give evaluation forms to workshop participants? If so, ensure the form asks questions in a manner that elicits usable testimonials. In other words, you might ask questions such as:
- “What is the most important thing you learned from this workshop?”
- “When you get back to your office, what ONE change will you make?”
- “With the advice you learned today, how will you change the way you do X?”
Use these methods to overcome the challenges to get customer testimonials.
Great testimonials help to win new clients!
Have you heard this advice: “Never change or edit client testimonials.” Not true! You SHOULD edit testimonials so they’re professional and add value. You can polish and edit client testimonials with a light touch. Just be careful not to change the meaning.
Use this checklist to edit client testimonials:
- PROOF – It’s vital to fix typos and punctuation issues. This helps to ensure your website and other marketing tools are polished and professional.
- SHORTEN – Brief testimonials get to the point and are easy to read. Trim long testimonials to 3-5 sentences. Yes, this means sacrificing content. But that’s better than loooong testimonials, which cause readers’ eyes to glaze over.
- REWORK (IF IT’S CONFUSING) – If a testimonial contains good content but is confusing or poorly written, consider rewording key sentences. Be careful not to change the meaning or the person’s intent. Then email the revised testimonial to your client for approval.
- ORGANIZE – I like to place testimonials with the most impact at the top of the website’s “Testimonials” page. When you organize client testimonials, alternate testimonials that address similar challenges.
- INCLUDE LOCATION & MORE – Make every testimonial work hard for you! Include the person’s full name, title, organization, and city/state or state/country. If your business is international, your testimonials from various countries prove that you work with clients around the world. Consider adding the client’s photo, if this is appropriate for your business. Also, if there are privacy issues (e.g., the healthcare industry) don’t publish the person’s full name. Instead use the first name only or initials only.
- ADD SEO KEYWORDS – When you edit client testimonials, sprinkle in organic SEO keywords. For example, if your name is Jane Doe and you’re a business coach, you can do this:
Replace this statement: “Jane guided me to…”
With this statement: “As my business coach, Jane Doe guided me to…”
- MAKE A BOLD STATEMENT – Your website visitors (your prospects) don’t read every word on your website. They skim. That’s why I select one sentence in every testimonial and make it bold.
Take time to edit client testimonials. This adds professionalism to your marketing tools – and adds value for your business.
It’s time to ditch the boring head shot!
In the past 2 days, I’ve chatted with 3 new clients who are ready to STEP UP and shine as the experts they are. It always surprises me how quickly “the photo” comes up in our branding discussions.
Intuitively, many solopreneurs understand that the traditional head shot does not serve them.
Are you a professional speaker, consultant, coach, or author? If so, you may be an expert in your niche. In fact, you may be a thought leader, shaking things up in your industry!
If you’re a solopreneur – without question – your photo should be on your website’s Home page, on your business card and, of course, on your speaker one-sheet.
Why? Because YOU are your brand. Your photo communicates who are you, and it creates an emotional connection with your prospects.
I believe your photo is a key Brand Element™. And I believe it must be a GREAT SHOT, not a head shot.
What makes for a great shot? It’s a STRATEGIC discussion and highly individual for each person. The following 12 tips offer guidelines. And scroll down to see 18 examples of my clients who use their great shot on their website Home page. (All are my clients, and all are solopreneurs – most are professional speakers, consultants, coaches, or authors.)
Here are 12 tips to ensure you get a GREAT SHOT (not just a head shot):
- “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Everything your photo “says” – overtly and covertly, symbolically and in subtext – must support your brand. Remember, planning your photo is a STRATEGIC discussion; give it the time and attention it deserves.
- The photo shows more of your body (for example, from the waist up), and therefore expresses more body language. When it comes to poses and props, there are a zillion creative approaches you can take! Just be sure the approach is appropriate for your brand. Take time to look at lots of websites, and be sure to scroll down and see the 18 examples below.
- Your facial expression and body language express confidence (without ego) and approachability (without being folksy). Note that it’s perfectly ok to cross your arms. This is a comfortable posture, and it conveys confidence. I often hear the comment: “But it’s closed body language!” As long as your facial expression and overall body language are warm and inviting, then crossed-arms is fine.
- It’s relaxed and more “you.” It’s not stiff or formal. Also, if you’re a professional speaker, don’t wave your arms around as if you’re gesturing in the midst of presentation. I’ve seen a few photos where this works, but I’ve seen MANY photos where it looks faked. “Fake” is the opposite of honest and earnest – NOT what you want to communicate.
- Instead of taking the shot in the photographer’s studio, there may be a different location – different context – such as an interesting outdoor environment or your work setting. Note that the context can symbolically underscore your message. For example, an artist or personal fitness coach would want their photos taken in their studio or gym, because the context adds more to the “story.” Carefully consider the context. If it isn’t a fit (symbolically), it can detract from your message. For example, a corporate consultant specializing in streamlined high-tech software tools shouldn’t be photographed in a rustic barn – this sends a mixed message.
- The professionalism of your outfit is appropriate for your target market. Not too formal, not too casual.
- The colors in your outfit complement your eye color and skin tone. If you’re already working with a designer, email him/her a few quick snapshots wearing different outfits and ask for an opinion. Designers are color specialists and can offer good advice.
- Get several different photos taken, so you can choose the best of the bunch. Take several outfits to your photo shoot and try different poses. (Don’t settle for one outfit/one pose.) As a bonus, when you give a variety of photos to your designer, you are doing him or her a big favor. Designers relish the opportunity to play with multiple images and ideas. If you have only one photo, this limits their creative options.
- The colors in your photo (clothing, hair, skin tones) “marry” with your logo. In other words, if your photo is primarily pink, it will clash terribly with your purple logo!
- “The eyes are the windows to the soul.” Don’t wear large earrings or loud jewelry that take the focus off the eyes. For key photos, such as the image on your Home page, look directly at the camera when taking the picture. That way, in your photo, you are gazing directly at the viewer. Symbolically, this conveys concepts such as straightforward, honest, and straight-shooter.
- Hire a professional photographer. Professionals know how to get that spark you’re looking for! Don’t skimp and ask a friend or family member who is “good with the camera.” Professional photos are well-lit and capture your sparkling personality. “Home-grown” photos tend to be dim and dull.
- Communicate with your photographer. Take time to explain strategic concepts around your brand and what you want the photo to convey. Talk about tactical ideas such as studio shot versus other location, horizontal versus vertical, and website versus speaker one-sheet. (How you plan to use the photo can influence the photographer’s decisions.) Show examples of photos you like and don’t like, and discuss why. Photographers are visual artists, and they will appreciate your visual aids.
Remember, YOU are your brand. Your photo communicates who are are and creates an emotional connection with your prospects.
Getting a GREAT SHOT is a STRATEGIC discussion and highly individual for each person. If you’d like to strategize YOUR great photo, click HERE to schedule a consultation.
Website copy must be on-target. Period. Do you know how to write your website content, so it meets the mark?
Is your website out-of-date, even embarrassing? Does it deliver qualified prospects – or does it just sit there, gathering dust? Have you been procrastinating, because you just don’t know where to start? Start here / start now, with my “Write Your Website Content” one-on-one coaching package.
As your most powerful marketing and sales tool, your website must work hard for you. It must:
- Present your brand and key messaging
- Ensure you shine as an expert in your niche
- Speak to your target market and address their needs
- Clearly state the results and benefits your clients get
- Build your list
- Deliver leads (qualified prospects)
- Sell your products and services
That’s asking a lot! So let’s start here…
With guidance, your website CAN do everything it needs to do. That’s why I offer an affordable “Write Your Website Content” one-on-one coaching package. In this 2-step coaching process, I’ll personally guide you to write on-target website content, whether you want to update your current website or create an entirely new website.
Every journey needs a roadmap! Your Website Roadmap clarifies where you want to go and how you’ll get there. This roadmap adds tons of clarity for you AND for your website developer. Believe me, having a clear plan lays the foundation for a streamlined, cost-effective, hassle-free website development process.
Step #2: With guidance, you’ll write your website content
- Be approached as marketing copy.
- Address navigation, usability, and other website-specific strategies.
- Emphasize benefits and results for your customers, rather than blandly discuss the business.
That’s why this coaching is so helpful – you get my personal guidance in one-one-one coaching calls, plus my proven tools. You’ll get the coaching, motivation, and the know-how to write your website content – copy that is clear and on-target. You’ll love this energizing process and the results you get!
“Write Your Website Content” one-on-one coaching package
Here are some of the tools and guidance you get:
- 1-hour one-on-one coaching call with Patrice to create your customized Website Roadmap
- Patrice’s personally created website content template, which offers the structure (and written advice) for how to write website copy
- Three 1-hour one-on-one coaching calls with Patrice (once a week for 3 weeks) regarding how to write your website copy: get direction, advice, answers to your questions, and a healthy dose of motivation!
- Bonus articles and videos include:
- “The power of clarity” (video)
- “Using the easy itch-and-scratch approach: How to write website copy and marketing content” (video)
- “How to create a project plan: Step-by-step instructions to get your project done” (a useful tool for your website writing project!)
- Patrice’s personal project plan template
- “Get qualified leads from your website by transforming your contact form into an inquiry form”
- “How to ask for (and get) client testimonials”
- “Checklist: How to edit testimonials to ensure they are professional and add value”
- “How to improve your writing: Patrice’s top 2 tips”
- “12-point checklist to systematically review your new or updated website before it goes live”
- Patrice’s preferred vendor list
This is a proven process to guide you to write your website content – clear and on-target copy that meets the mark. You’ll love this high-energy, results-oriented approach to write your website content!
Surviving “Mobilegeddon” – Now is the time to “go mobile” AND update your website’s Home page design
Did you hear Google’s news?
A few months ago, the search giant announced that it’s rolling out a new algorithm to rank websites in search results. Starting April 21, Google’s search-engine robots began favoring mobile-friendly websites in Google’s ranking calculations.
This “go mobile” deadline was dubbed “Mobilegeddon.”
Google wants the best-possible experience for its users. Now, companies that cater to mobile users earn the most visibility in online searches. In short, Google wants mobile users to be happy and, as a business owner, it’s time to “go mobile.”
You can dismiss the need to “go mobile,” but I recently tripped over this SEO expert’s summary: “I’d suggest that the impact of this release was significant … In the long run, don’t be surprised if the impact of this algorithm becomes even greater.” [Stone Temple Consulting]
It’s time to “go mobile.” Use this opportunity to update your website Home page!
Have you noticed a new look for contemporary websites? Today’s Home page sports:
- multiple areas of interest to engage users who scroll
- more enticing interactivity, including video
- a sticky header (top navigation “sticks” when you scroll down)
- various effects to add depth and movement, including “parallax effect”
Click to view my new Home page. Feel free to use the structure (“wireframe”) as a template.
On your computer or tablet, roll over the social media icons and other areas to see fun interactivity. Watch the green background behind the opt-in box to see the parallax effect. On your smartphone, notice the different layout, created specifically for mobile usability.
Take this opportunity to go mobile — and go contemporary!
View my new Home page at www.BrandingAndWebsites.com
~ BEFORE ~ ~ AFTER ~
Use this checklist to ensure a successful launch for your new (or updated) website!
Over the years, I’ve reviewed hundreds of business websites to ensure they were polished, professional, and working properly.
Before a website goes live – and immediately after – I thoroughly review the website. Top to bottom. Using my systematic approach.
Use this checklist to thoroughly review YOUR new or updated website. The goal, of course, is to successfully launch your new, polished, professional website, so you can happily share it with the world!
Here’s my 12-point checklist. Use it to review your new or updated website before it goes live AND after it goes live.
- Test all links – Click the across-the-top navigation to ensure every web page is linked appropriately. Next, scroll down to the footer and click all text links to ensure they’re set up correctly, including social media icons. And don’t forget the site map: open the site map web page and check every link. Next, systematically move from web page to web page testing every link: any text links in the body copy, videos, audios, PDF speaker one-sheet, PDF resume, and all graphical elements (e.g., logos). If the blog has categories and a FeedBurner type of email subscription, check these links as well. Finally, on the interior pages, try clicking on the company logo in the banner – this should take you back to the Home page.
- Complete all forms to ensure they work – Complete all opt-in boxes and contact forms. Put on the “customer hat” and experience the process from the website visitor’s point of view. If there’s a PDF giveaway on the Thank-You-For-Subscribing page (from the opt-in box), click the link. It’s shocking how often this is overlooked! In fact, thoroughly review these behind-the-scenes thank-you pages (developers call these “success pages”). Also, critically look at any Captcha-type spam-control plugin the developer may have added to your contact form. Personally, I find reCAPTCHA beyond frustrating. If you and your website developer decide your website needs a spam-control plugin, select a version that your target market can easily use. Imagine a qualified prospect taking the time to thoroughly complete your contact form, then throwing in the towel due to a frustrating experience, right when they’re ready to hit Submit – you won’t get that lead.
- Now try to BREAK all forms! – What happens if you don’t complete a required field, then hit Submit? Is the “error” dialog box helpful? Or is it cryptic and confusing? On the contact form, can you input a long European phone number in the phone field or does it only allow 10 characters for US and Canadian phone numbers? Spend time trying to “break” every opt-in box and contact form. If there are any issues, it’s best for YOU to find them, not your customers.
- Purchase your product – Whip out your credit card and purchase your book or downloadable product. Check to ensure all pricing and shipping information is correct. Put on the customer hat to experience the purchase from the website visitor’s point of view. Is the purchase and downloadable process easy? Did it work properly? Are all directions throughout the process clear and easy to understand? Jot down any errors – and possible points of confusion – and discuss these with your developer.
- Test all email addresses – Is the main email address on the website Info@ABCcompany.com? Are there other email addresses? Ensure all are properly set up. If they don’t work, you may lose email messages from qualified prospects.
- Test all other features/functionality – Does your website have a search function? Test it. Any other features or functionality? Test these thoroughly, wearing the customer hat.
- Proof every word – Typos slip in … it’s a fact of life. Weirdly, typos seem to “hide out” best in 24-point headlines! Here are my favorite tips to flush out lurking typos and sneaky grammar and punctuation errors. This is an important step to ensure your website meets your high standards of professionalism.
(A) Print every page and proof the old-fashioned way – on paper. This simple trick offers a surprising level of objectivity and is much more effective than proofing at the monitor.
(B) Ask a family member, friend, or colleague to proof your website copy for you. Choose someone who has this skillset.
(C) Hire a professional proofreader.
- Critically examine stock photos – If the developer used stock photos in your new website, are the images fresh or trite? Do the images support your message? Ask pointed questions of your developer to ensure you have purchased the rights to use all stock photos and clipart. Finally, you’ll want to ensure photos with people present a mix of male/female, various ethnicities and, depending on your target market, different age groups.
- Check all redirects – For example, if your website address is ParagonConsulting.com and you requested that your developer redirect ParagonCoaching.com, then you’ll want to ensure this is set up.
- Ensure your developer has implemented basic SEO strategies – Like a well, this is a deep subject, given the plethora of SEO strategies and philosophies. At minimum, ensure your developer added a unique meta title and meta description for each web page and incorporated important organic keywords.
- Review using different browsers and multiple mobile devices (both Apple and Android) – Yikes, this is the bane of every website developer – and reviewers! This task can be time-consuming, and many developers do not conduct a thorough review. However, it’s YOUR website so, ultimately, it’s YOUR responsibility. At the time of this writing, there are 5 major browsers: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Opera. Download each browser onto your computer and test the key features and functionality of your website on every browser (especially email and contact form). Yes, it’s a pain, but this is vitally important. And take time to review your new website on a variety of mobile devices – both Apple and Android. I recently found a significant issue when reviewing a client’s new website on my Android smartphone – an issue he didn’t encounter on his iPhone.
SIDE NOTE: As of December 2014, W3Schools.com listed the most popular browsers (in terms of market share) as:
- Google Chrome: 61.36%
- Mozilla Firefox: 23.6%
- Internet Explorer: 8.0%
- Safari: 3.7%
- Opera: 1.6%
- What’s missing? – I’ve done a ton of professional editing in my career. Long ago, this realization popped into my head regarding the difference between a proofreader and an editor: The proofreader looks at what IS there; the editor also looks at what is NOT there. Step up to the 10,000-foot level and ask yourself: “Is anything missing? Are all photos, videos, and other assets represented in my new website, as planned? Is the contact form robust, so it serves as a hardworking inquiry form? Have we overlooked anything?”
If you have thoroughly reviewed your new or updated website – using this checklist and a systematic approach – then you’re ready to go live. Congratulations!