Tips To Help Clean Up Your eCommerce Website This Spring
It’s about that time to start your spring cleaning around the house. Clear out all the dust bunnies, clean in places you didn’t even know existed, find things lost to time, get rid of old junk, and generally just tidy up a bit before summer comes in full swing. But for those who own eCommerce websites, there are similar reasons to begin spring cleaning as well. Now just as it is with our homes, it takes a dedicated effort all the same for your website. You may get frustrated, sickened, tired, and generally want to give up but you know you can’t. That’s why spring cleaning is so dreaded… it’s literally an all-in on all-fronts. But rather than becoming intimidated or worried you can’t complete your eCommerce spring cleaning well enough, take a look through our check list of must-dos. If you formulate your plan of attack well, the process will likely be much smoother and more successful. Good luck!
If you are just now realizing your site could be more mobile friendly or optimized better, you probably didn’t do your spring cleaning last year, or the year before. Nonetheless ensuring your website is mobile friendly and optimized should be a critical concern. Not even taking into account the amount of potential traffic lost, which would be significant, your site will actually be penalized at this point if it doesn’t meet mobile requirements. Mobile friendly sites aren’t just a bonus anymore to have, but an absolute necessity. It’s also not even that the pages have to simply be viewable. The checkout process, sign-ups, every site function should be easily accomplished regardless of the device you are on.
Site Health Audit
It may not happen often, or frequently, but errors of some nature are bound to pop up given enough time, updates, and changes on site. As such it is important to run a check on the overall health of your website, ensuring pages load well and in a timely manner, there are no broken links, and everything is functioning as it should. Beyond the appearance of a healthy site to users, you also want your site to be healthy for search engine bots which take on a whole other set of parameters. There are a number of tools out there that can help assist with this, one of my favorites being provided by Moz. They offer a wide range of tools both for free and for a monthly subscription, all of which are worth browsing through.
For larger, more complicated websites, especially those with a lot of custom functionality, you will likely also want to perform a code audit to check for old, broken, failing, or even useless/redundant code. If you do not have a dedicated development team on staff to perform this task, you should seek out a trusted development agency that has experience and is comfortable coding on the web platform your site uses. You may be surprised to find that through tightening up your sites code, the site will overall run faster and perform at a much higher level. Good code versus great code can mean the difference between achieving a sale or not, this cannot be underestimated.
As you add content to your site, over time, things will start to become outdated. You can’t simply fix the immediate problems that are known to you as chances are there are far more unknown problems that exist. You can’t forget every page on your site contains content of some form, whether that content comes in the form of text, image, video, or audio doesn’t matter. You have to systematically go through all of your sites content, essentially meaning every page, to try and weed out false and outdated information as well as underperforming pieces. Furthermore you have to view the statistics on your pages activity to see if there are some not being found or are not being appreciated. This may mean combining weak content found on similar pages to make one stronger piece, scrapping pieces all together, or even breaking certain pages apart if the scope is too broad covering numerous topics.
Without a doubt you will find content that can be made better and rather than viewing this as a hindrance or problem, you should view it as an opportunity to strengthen what you already have. Combing through your content will not only allow you to correct problems but will also generate ideas for future content pieces. Through studying page analytics you should have a pretty good idea of what direction to go in. Seeing as the scope of this can quickly get out of control, you have to be very careful to lay out a road map with clearly marked goals. You also don’t have to do this all in one fell swoop, and rather find an achievable pace at which you can continually update and correct old content WHILE STILL generating new pieces or performing general daily tasks. Again, this is perhaps the largest and most difficult area of spring cleaning for websites, but is an absolute must. Especially so for sites with a lot of products as every product has an image and description (content) which may need to be fixed or updated.
UI, Navigation, and Checkout Process
Nothing is more frustrating to a user than a poorly designed site, a site where information is not readily available and when the final checkout process is long and laborious. The main thing to remember about your own website is that it is yours and you know it better than most, furthermore you’ve invested into it and likely have a biased opinion about it. This is all to say that just because you believe your site is easy to use and find what you’re looking for and purchased it in the end does not mean the experience is the same for everyone else. This is why your websites data and statistics help so much to keep you grounded and seeing things as they are, not as you want them to be.
That said, if you review your site analytics and find one of the following problems below, you may have an issue;
- Certain pages are never visited that you think should be.
- Few visitors visit a second page after first arriving.
- Visitor page duration times are low.
- Your shopping cart abandon rates are high.
The good news is that for most basic website functionality fixing these critical things is rather easy. If there is a custom functionality on your website which is difficult for visitors to use, that’s a similar but different problem to address. But any decent designer or development firm should easily be able to direct you in the right path if you don’t feel comfortable figuring it out yourself. The name of the game is ease-of-use. Things should be simple, both in use and on the eye, with only the minimum number of steps needed for the user to reach their goal.
Review Digital Marketing Strategy
Hopefully by now you have formulated a new years marketing strategy and it has been in use generating data and hopefully sales. If you haven’t, the year has only just begun and it’s better late than never! Now it’s about time to start reviewing and analyzing how your plan has played out. Review everything from blog visits and acquired links to social media engagements and paid marketing. Compare what you find against what you hoped to achieve and change your plan accordingly. If your roadmap was well planned out, you should have an understanding of the point you hoped to be at now. Again be honest with yourself and don’t ignore the facts, if something isn’t working don’t make excuses, just make positive changes.
Update Patches, Apps, Plugins, and Extensions
Making sure everything you use is up to date is critical if you hope to avoid problems either for yourself or for your viewers. This typically is an easy task and should certainly be performed regularly. Beyond ensuring everything is working well together it is often very important for security purposes as patches often fix security vulnerabilities that have been exploited. That said, it would also probably be worthwhile to do a round of changes to your passwords if you haven’t done that in a while. Always better to be safe than sorry.
Review Product Offerings
Now if you only sell a handful of products you likely know exactly what’s being sold on site, how popular it is to users, and most importantly how profitable carrying these products are. However if your online store contains hundreds or thousands of products, chances are good you don’t keep a close eye on every product offering. Some products may simply not be performing/selling well and that either means something has to be done to better promote them, or chances are you may want to discontinue selling it. There is no point selling something no one wants as it costs money to purchase/build, store, and promote. Why spend money where no money is to be made? Rather if you notice certain products are underperforming, your attempts to increase sales has failed, and it seems the product was a bust, trust your instinct. Discontinue offering that product and put the effort and money towards products that are bringing in revenue. Once again, consult your sites data and analytics to help keep you honest during this process.