Updated: Feb 18
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If you want a complete list of how to optimize the look & functionality of your website, then you will LOVE this guide!
I’ve personally implemented all 53 of these simple tactics on dozens of websites.
Feel free to filter through the content & do the easy ones first.
If you run into any issues implementing on one of them - let me know!
First Things First
1. Pick a Purpose
What is the purpose of your website?
Take however long it takes to answer this question BEFORE moving on.
It will affect everything you do on your site!
2. Understand Your CMS
CMS - Content Management System.
Think Wordpress, Wix, Squarespace, etc. Wherever the content of your website is managed.
Take some time & understand the capabilities of your CMS so you can work effectively on the design of your site.
(if you’re not sure, you can check your CMS here - www.whatcms.org)
3. Double Check Your Domain
You owe it to yourself to check out the new, awesome options out there!
I couldn’t get InvictaEnterprises.com (owner didn’t want to sell!). So instead I was able to get Invicta.Enterprises.
Have some fun exploring the possibilities here - www.namecheap.com.
4. Your Header
Potentially your most valuable real estate - so don’t let it go to waste!
This is a perfect spot for a stunning image & a call to action.
Check out this example from Backlink.io:
Right away you know what the site is about (PURPOSE - see #1:) & there’s an easy call to action.
5. Consider a Lightbox
A lightbox is technically a pop-up that activates either once someone lands on your page, when they scroll to a certain point, or when they move to click away.
If the PURPOSE of your site is subscriptions or lead gen, a lightbox can make a HUGE difference (up to 1375% according to one study!).
OptinMonster.com does it right as you can see here:
6. Or Something More Subtle
If a lightbox is too “in your face” for your taste, you can try a more subtle option - the edge pop-up.
Instead of taking up the whole page, this pop-up appears in a corner or along the top or bottom of a page and follows the viewer as they scroll.
Often they look something like this:
7. Make It Universal
Since you established the PURPOSE of your site in #1, you should have a clear idea of what you want people to do on your site.
Make sure that your header reflects this purpose & is consistent throughout your site.
8. Feature Your Best Offer
If someone is going to bounce from your site, you have about 2 seconds to capture their attention.
Use your header to give away your best stuff or offer the best deal right up front!
A Marvelous Menu
9. Be Brief
Giving people too many options on a menu is overwhelming and works against you.
As a rule of thumb - no more than 6 items on a menu.
10. Need More Than 6 Menu Items? Try This
If you need more than 6, cut the clutter and create a sub-menu like you see at Cabelas.com:
11. Make Sure to Have These Pages
This will vary depending on the PURPOSE of your site. But some basic pages to include would be:
Services and/or Products
(Or some variation of those:)
12. Throw in a CTA in Your Menu
We mentioned before offering your best stuff right up front.
One great place to do that is in your menu.
Instead of just the normal menu pages, try an exciting, prominent call to action right in your menu (a different color will help it stand out).
13. Make Sure It’s Easy to Read
Seems like a no brainer, but a lot of times the menu gets forgotten and ends up being a bad color, too small, or a hard to read font.
14. Make Sure It’s Mobile
If the PURPOSE of your site is the most important, it is quickly followed by making your site MOBILE…
(since nearly 50% of traffic is currently (2020) mobile & projects to be upwards of 75% in just a few years!)
So make sure your menu will load beautifully on a mobile device.
15. Understand HTTP vs. HTTPS
This is basic stuff but can be a bit tricky to understand.
This video does a fantastic job of quickly explaining it in an easy way to understand.
16. Understand the Importance of a SSL Certification
A SSL Certification tells visitors your site is safe, reputable, and increases confidence (especially if you are asking them to input any data!).
17. Get Your SSL Certification
CMSs like Wix or Squarespace have easy options for making sure your site has an SSL Certification.
It’s free, quick, & easy.
If you don’t have an SSL Certification, check out this article from GeekFlare.com.
Once you have it, you’ll see the padlock symbol & “https” in the address bar.
The Importance of Headings
18. Understand “Skim” Culture
Very few people really READ when they’re online. Therefore, make it easy to skim with plenty of headlines throughout your content.
19. Grab Attention with Interesting Headings
(NOTE: this applies to your menu too!)
How many sites have you seen with boring headings like “About Us” or “Services”?
Answer - too many!
Spice things up. Instead of “About Us” (boring!) try something like “Our Story” or “How Did This Happen?”.
Instead of “Services” try something like “Ready to Change Your Life?” or “How We Make Your Life Easier”.
This is what I tried to do on my own Contact Page.
20. Leave Them Hanging
Since you know they’re just skimming, use your headlines to rope them in.
Best ways to do that:
1) Ask Questions
The human brain hates NOT KNOWING!
2) Use Attention Grabbing Statistics or Facts
“75% of People Judge a Site Based on Its Website”
3) Combine 1 & 2
21. Don’t Be Afraid of Your English Teacher
We all learned “proper” formatting in school.
However, the internet has changed that.
So go with it!
Boring People to Death:
22. Shorter is ALWAYS Better
The topic of headings flows right into the rest of your text.
The classic advice holds up - SHOW don’t TELL.
More pictures & videos, less text.
23. Break It Up
Your site should NEVER have a big block of text.
People take one look and are exhausted.
Embrace the white space!
24. Don’t Merely Say Things to Say Things
Remember #1? PURPOSE. If text on your page is not aligned with your site’s purpose - DELETE IT.
For instance, DON’T do this:
25. Make Sure Your Text is the Right Size
Perhaps this is just a pet peeve, but many websites have their font set to tiny.
And that’s not helpful at all.
Your headings should stand out, but then your text should not require zoom to read.
26. Make Sure Your Text is the Right Color
It may be tempting to go fancy and do white text on a colored background.
Sometimes this can work & look great.
However, most of the time is just makes it harder to read.
Black text on a white (or extremely light) background is still the best option.
27. Pick Your Fonts & STAY WITH THEM
If you came to the dance with a certain font, you’d better be willing to dance with them across your entire site.
3 fonts is the MAX (2 is better) & you need to know which goes where.
A lot of CMSs have built in settings for this.
A Beautiful Thing
28. Unify Your Calls to Action
Make sure your calls to action throughout the site are the same.
There are some exceptions to this rule, but that’s for more advanced marketing based on analytics.
29. Unify Fonts, Styles, Images
Unify these things and your visitors will feel like they are seamlessly ice skating from one page to the next.
If you’re using certain fonts, paragraph styles, or image filters, maintain that throughout the site.
30. Unify Your Color Palette
It’s very jarring to go from pastels to primary colors.
Your site should be on one color palette throughout.
How to Have a Modern Looking Website
31. Understand Modern Trends
Keeping up with modern trends can be a chore.
However, it is essential!
For ideas on modern trends, I love www.behance.net.
32. Know the Difference Between Old & New Styles
This can be hard to put into words, so I’m going to take my own advice and SHOW instead of TELL.
Old, outdated style:
(I could go on, but you get the idea)
New, modern style:
Again, I could go on, but you get the idea!
In order to really appreciate the new modern site, you should really go check it out - it’s awesome - taotajima.jp.
33. Compare Your Current Site to That of Web Design Companies
Most web design companies (though not all!) keep up with modern trends.
Compare your site to some of these & note differences and ways to improve your own.
https://www.digitechwebdesignaustin.com/ (a personal favorite)
The Art of Animation
34. Add Animations
If you currently don’t have any animations on your site, it’s time to add some!
A lot of CMSs will have plenty of animation options.
35. Keep Animations Subtle
Nothing screams “UNPROFESSIONAL” like loud, obnoxious animations on a website.
It’s distracting and defeats your PURPOSE.
Keep them subtle and purposeful. A soft fade, a nice slide in. Be creative, but don’t go overboard!
36. Use Animations to Bring Attention
Our eyes are naturally drawn to movement. However, if EVERYTHING is moving, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
Animate (subtly) the things you want to draw your visitor’s eyes to.
37. Test Your Speed
You need to know where you are before you can find out where to go!
Use a site like tools.pingdom.com to test your site’s speed and write that number down.
Site Load Times:
Below 1 second = Perfect
1-3 seconds = Above Average
3-7 seconds = Average
7+ seconds = Very Poor
38. Use the Recommendations
Pingdom is awesome because it shows you how your site is doing in a host of specific areas.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Pingdom gives you specific things you can do to fix issues with your site and improve load speed.
In case you just want some quick & dirty tricks, here are a couple:
39. Compress Your Images
This site will take PNGs or JPGs and make them the smallest size possible while maintaining quality.
Do this to all of your sites images.
40. Check for Broken Links
If your site has been around for awhile, chances are you have some broken links hiding somewhere.
Use a service like this one to check for broken links then go fix them!
Optimize Your Footer
41. Restate Your Main CTA
As with all of your valuable real estate on your site, you need to be pointing viewers to the PURPOSE of your site.
42. Make Sure You Have Social Links Handy
Since a lot of sites put their social links at the bottom, people are accustomed to look there if they want to check out your social media.
Make it easy for them with linked icons.
43. Have a “Back-to-Top” Button
If you’ve scrolled all the way down to the bottom of a page, getting back up can be a chore.
Make it easy for your visitors by having an arrow or button at the bottom that takes them back to the top.
44. Keep Your Copyright Up to Date
At the bottom, most sites have a disclaimer that says something like “Copyright 2020, All Rights Reserved, [Company Name]”.
If the year is not current, it looks like you haven’t updated your site in awhile (which may be the case!).
SEO - Search Engine Optimization
(SEO could have an entire checklist of its own (maybe I should look into that:).
But here are just a few basic things to get you started!)
45. Research & Know Your Keywords
The PURPOSE of your site will determine what keywords you want to focus on.
46. Write SEO Descriptions for Each Page
This is called “metadata” and it allows search engines to know what the page is about.
Make sure you have one for each page and that you hit your keywords.
47. Include Alt Tags for All Images
Google doesn’t technically have “eyes” (right now at least) so when it comes across an image, it looks at something called an “alt tags”.
This just means “alternate” tag.
It’s a word or phrase that tells Google what the image is.
48. Get Some Quality Backlinks
A backlink is where a website has a link that goes back to your site.
Google takes the number and quality of backlinks into consideration when deciding where to place your site in rankings for keywords.
Guest blogging, sharing content, and listing your site in directories are all good ways to get quality backlinks.
A Few Other Random Things
49. Your Favicon
This is a favicon:
It’s a small thing (literally) but a custom favicon shows you care about the details (and know what you’re doing:).
51. Make It More than a Billboard
Your website should be a place where people can learn, get resources, be inspired, laugh, or connect with others.
52. Start a Blog
One of the best ways to make your website a destination:
A quality, regular blog.
A good blog allows you to interact with readers via comments, build a community, share information and much, much more!
(BTW: if you’ve attempted the whole blogging thing only to end up with a few old posts that nobody reads, you’re not alone! I’d love to talk with you about outsourcing the managing of your blog - you get all the benefits of a quality, regular blog without any of the headaches! If you’re interested - let’s talk!)
53. Make It Mobile
I mentioned this a few times, but it deserves its own section (it’s that important!).
The majority of your traffic will be mobile.
Make sure that you deliver a seamless experience no matter what device your visitor may be using.
Do you have a favorite optimization that wasn’t included here? Leave a comment below & I’ll add it ASAP!
P.S. - If you want a custom checklist for your website, plus a custom repair blueprint, plus an hour of free coaching on how to implement the change - just go to invicta.enterprises/blueprint & make it happen!
Talk to you soon!