We all look at our own WordPress site differently.
Some of us think we are doing brilliantly. Others not so much.
But, we are so used to looking at our own website, that we become blind to the most obvious errors.
That’s why it’s necessary for all of us to carry out some form of WordPress website critique of your own, and to do it effectively and without being biased.
We can keep doing elaborate marketing campaigns, push out expensive ads and create amazingly detailed content. But if you don’t step back and critique your website, you will miss the bigger picture – that it can help you to attract, engage and retain your customers.
This means that all of your efforts to attract could be in vain, because of your failure to see things on your own site.
So, let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- Always Think From Your Customers’ Perspective
- What Does Conversion Mean to You?
- Is Your Call-to-Action Obvious Enough?
- How Does Your Website Look… Honestly?
- Is Your Font Readable?
- Is Your Message Clear and Obvious Enough?
- Perform a Basic SEO Audit
- Make Sure That Your WordPress Site is Secure & Up-To-Date
- Check Your Site On Different Browsers & Devices
- How Are You Proving Your Credibility?
- Are Your Contact Details Easy to Find?
- Are You Providing Solutions to Problems?
1. Always Think From Your Customers’ Perspective
This is not only the first step but possibly the most important step in this entire post, as it can determine your ability to critique your website.
In order to critique effectively, you need to imagine that you are in your customers’ shoes and you have landed on your site, experience it as a customer and not as the owner of the website.
Easier said than done, I know. But if we can’t think from our customers’ perspective, it’s difficult to move forward from here. You will run the risk of missing any barriers and problems on your site your customers could potentially be having, that you couldn’t see.
Without it, you won’t get far.
2. What Does Conversion Mean to You?
What do you want your customers to do on your site? What is the end goal for them? What is conversion to you?
Unless you run a private website which is only meant for you, like a hobby site or a private journal, every website has an end goal in mind. And that doesn’t mean you have to sell a product either (which is, of course, a valid conversion type too).
It could be anything from:
- Purchasing a product
- Contact form completion
- Newsletter sign-up
- Ebook downloaded
- Phone call request confirmation
- “…comment below”
There are so many, and I’ve listed the different types of conversions that could apply to you here.
Whatever it is, that is most likely your conversion. But you also need to make it obvious and easy enough for them to convert.
3. Is Your Call-To-Action Obvious Enough?
You can work really hard with your site, have the best products, amazingly useful content, slick layout and beautiful design. But if you don’t have a clear call-to-action (CTA) for your audience, then all of that work and effort will be for nothing.
You might think that you’ve made it clear enough for your CTA (the ‘Add to Basket’, the ‘Send Message Now’, the ‘Download Your Free Guide’, etc). But I go back to my first point, which is to think from your customers’ perspective.
Is your call-to-action clear enough to see and easy enough to complete? And does it do what it says it will do?
Of course, there could be many other reasons why your site is not converting, but at the very least, you need to guide your visitors by making it clear how to go to the next step.
4. How Does Your Website Look… Honestly?
Let’s get it out there before we get too far ahead of ourselves; I am not a web designer.
We don’t need to have a slick and flashy that design only an expert can create. But, unfortunately, we live in a world where first impressions matter. It is not just applicable to meeting someone for the first time, but to websites too.
A study has shown that first impressions are most influenced by the visual appeal of the site. Back in 2012, Google themselves noticed in their own research that users form an opinion about your web design in just 17 milliseconds.
My own website is not perfect (there’s no such thing as a perfect website anyway), but I’d like to think that it’s easy to find your way around, easy on the eyes and my audience can find what they’re looking for (at least, that’s what they tell me).
I’ve kept it simple, and sometimes, keeping it clean and minimal can do a better job than you think. You might need to update your own WordPress theme to go for something that is slightly more user-friendly and easier on the eye.
Whatever it is, if your design is really dated, not professional, rarely updated and makes it really difficult to know where to go next, then you might want to think about updating it.
Regardless of whether you have a big or small budget, there are various ways to make sure that it’s done correctly, with the right WordPress web designer. For me, if I require some small tweaks of any kind, I like to use WordPress specialists like Codeable to help me out.
But please – no cheesy, animations, auto-play music, images from Clip Art, and no Comic Sans.
Speaking of fonts…
5. Is Your Font Readable?
It’s so common to see content creators insisting on using fancy, script-style fonts, thinking they’re being creative, only to make it off-putting and very hard to read.
It’s one thing to use it on a graphic or image, where only a word or two is in script-style font, or something like that. But it’s another to actually use it for your entire site.
I can promise you that it will make it harder for your customers to read your content.
You will never see the likes of social media platforms, online magazines and news publishers using anything more than simple fonts. They’re like that for a reason, so I advise you to do the same and make sure it is simple.
The same applies to the colour of the background. Again, there is a reason why the majority choose dark font + white background.
But if you choose to have an arty font, black background and light font colour, don’t be surprised if you see high bounce rates and lack of conversions.
So, keep your font “web-safe”. It matters a lot.
6. Is Your Message Clear and Obvious Enough?
This is slightly different from making sure that your font choice is easy to read, as mentioned above.
If a new visitor has arrived on the homepage of your site, is it clear to understand what you do? Is it obvious enough? Or are you being too “gimmicky” and overly-clever with your words, which actually puts them off?
Again, you don’t have to go overboard with your messaging. Mine is nothing fancy, as you can see on my homepage. I just tell it as it is.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – keep it simple.
7. Perform a Basic SEO Audit
There are a number of basic things to look out for:
- Are you making use of H1 and H2 headings on your site for every single page?
- Are you using keywords naturally within the headline, URL, SEO title, meta description and the body for every single page?
- Are you optimising all of your images?
- Is your site fast to load?
- Are the permalinks structures set-up properly?
- Are you using reputable managed WordPress hosting?
- Are you creating actionable and high-quality content consistently?
- Are all of your links working?
This is not a complete list, but make sure you take advantage of beginners SEO tips that are available to read about on this site.
If there comes a point where you do need an SEO consultant to help you out, it’s still worth knowing the basics of SEO so that you don’t fall for some scam by someone who claims to be an “expert”.
8. Make Sure That Your WordPress Site is Secure & Up-To-Date
You wouldn’t leave the front door of your house unlocked, would you? Imagine your website had an unlocked front door… how would that make you feel?
Yet, it’s still common to see many website owners not doing the necessary basic tasks to make sure that their website is secure and safe to use.
This baffles me if you are highly dependent on your website to be live and performing well in order for you to run your business.
Don’t wait until a major security breach happens on your site before you do something about it. Act now!
9. Check Your Site On Different Browsers & Devices
Not all of your visitors will be accessing your site using the same device (desktop, tablet or mobile) or browsers (Chrome, Firefox, IE, etc.), that you are currently using (didn’t I say something about pretending to be in your customers’ shoes? Hmm…).
You may think that your site seems to be in good working order from your end, but how do you know if it works on other devices and browsers that you don’t use?
There are several ways to get around this if you don’t have access to them. You can use a tool like BrowserStack that gives you a decent overview of how your site will appear for free, or use the paid option for a more comprehensive look.
The free options are not perfect, but will still give you a good insight as to how well (or not well) your site appears across different browsers and devices.
You can also use Google Analytics to look at how well your customers are able to engage with your content and convert at the end.
And if you do spot problems, you can then look into fixing them.
10. How Are You Proving Credibility?
For those who don’t know you, how are you proving to them that you know what you are talking about?
You may have years of experience, qualifications and industry knowledge, but how can you prove that on your website?
And no, having an about page that looks like your CV won’t cut it. This will not make the type of impact that you want it to.
One way of proving your credibility is to “show off” your knowledge by creating content on your site. If you ever visit my blog, you will see that I consistently provide helpful and useful content that will answer a question and provide solutions to a problem.
And that’s why I’ve written this very post you are reading. You probably asked yourself “How do I critique my own website?”, and ended up here.
Writing blog posts is one thing, but creating video and/or podcasts is a huge way to show that you are “real” and helps to connect more deeply with your audience.
Another way to show your credibility is to provide testimonials. But it’s not just about getting your customers to describe how they feel after working with you, e.g. “Jane Doe was great to work with and very professional. She has helped me out and save me a lot of time.”.
That’s boring and frankly, it doesn’t help anyone.
We would want to know what your customers achieved as a result of working with you, e.g. “Jane Doe has helped to save me 10 hours a week, which meant that I had more time to focus on my business. As a result, it has helped to increase my revenue by 33% after 3 months.”.
Now you are proving your worth to your customers!
11. Are Your Contact Details Easy to Find?
It is very frustrating for a customer who wants to contact you and have to work extra hard just to find your contact details.
Let’s not do that, as you are not doing yourself any favours. Preventing customers from contacting you is a very easy way to push them away.
And by the way, if you do have a contact form, I’ve said it so many times now, keep it simple. If you are forcing them to fill in too many fields, or worse, forcing them to sign-up to your newsletter, that’s just not nice.
12. Are You Providing Solutions to Problems?
One of the main reasons why a customer would buy from you is because you have something that can solve their problem. This can be in the form of a product or service.
Another way for you to help solve problems is to provide solutions through your content e.g. a blog post, YouTube video, etc.. This can be anything from a ‘how-to guide’ to having a troubleshooting page.
Whatever it is, if you provide solutions to a problem, you will become the go-to person in the market.
The hard part is for you is to think like a customer and work out whether you are helping them or not.
You may have picked up two main themes from this post:
- Think from the perspective of your customers
- Keep it simple
If you can do these as the bare minimum, you will go a long way to making your website critique more efficient.
If not, the danger is that you go with your own gut feeling when you go through your website.
You may think that it looks good.
You may think that everything should be the way it is.
You may think that you are giving your customers everything they need.
But it’s not about what you think. It’s about what they think. As well as receiving and listening to feedback, critiquing your WordPress site can also go a long way to making your business run smoother and your customers happier.
Is there anything else that you would suggest businesses should do when it comes to critiquing their own website?
Let me know in the comments below.
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