One thing I learned early in life was that details matter. Often, it’s the little things that can make a difference — even if those details are not
In this new world of content marketing, it pays to have people in your organization who are a little fussy. Everyone makes mistakes — and most people
will overlook a little spelling error or punctuation faux pas every now and again. But often, it’s the things that may not necessarily be wrong, they
just feel wrong. Sometimes, it’s those little things that make things work well — even when something breaks — that give the end-user
a sense that things are under control.
Today, consumers expect a lot from a modern website. But many organizations may be working with a site that was developed three years ago — or longer.
Short of a re-design, there are a number of improvements that can be implemented to help most any website stay competitive.
Here are a three tips that take little time and effort, but can go a long way to giving your website visitors that loving feeling, once again.
1. Custom Error Page
One day, your site administrator will remove a page from your website. And in-between the time this occurs and the time search engines update their index,
someone will find that page — only it won’t be there. Consider that the default error page a browser displays when this occurs will look quite
different from your website. Chances are high that this potential visitor will navigate away to another site.
With a custom error page, that visitor ends up on a page that looks like your website — with directions to find what they were looking for. Best
of all, it takes little time to develop a custom error page.
While there are many examples of clever error pages, I recommend
something simple with a brief note informing the visitor that the page requested is no longer there along with a site map or a clear link to the home
Want some inspiration? Check out 404notfound.fr for some clever examples.
2. Auto-Reply & Confirmation Emails
Web forms are the core of creating engagement with visitors. These forms, if used properly, will capture information that can build the bulk of your prospect
and customer data. It’s important not to overlook the communication that makes up the confirmation messages and the email correspondence. These messages
can be used to nurture prospects and build fans just as easily as it can alienate the same audience if not properly attended.
And auto-responders can save you time through automation, help to keep your audience engaged, and provide another opportunity to make you look good. Perhaps
the biggest benefit is the feeling you leave with a new visitor who filled out your form and got the email letting them know, “it worked!”
3. Page Descriptions
This last one differs slightly in that it is not necessarily a website improvement as much as it’s a way to aid people looking for your products or services.
When a page from your site appears on a search engine results page, the title and description that appears could be less than useful if not attended to
properly. Most search engines will display the default title and the first paragraph of text — which may, or may not be desirable. Or, you can
place keyword-rich titles and strategically-created descriptions in the description Meta tag.
Bear in mind that most search engines will only display the first seventy characters (including spaces) of your page titles and 156 characters (yep, spaces
count here, too) of your page description.
As you can see from the example, the first site listed is utilizing the description tag, but used too many characters, as shown by the ellipsis trailing
at the end. Whereas the description for the second site stayed within the character limits. Meanwhile, the third site’s description was created from
scraping the first paragraph of text from the page — including part of the site’s navigation.
Clearly, there are many other factors that make up an effective, user-friendly website, including grammar, readability, and spelling. But often, it’s the
little details can go a long way to help your website stand out from those of your competitors.