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Websites: A Diagnostic Checklist

Your website is often the first interaction a user will have with your organisation, so it’s important to make sure it’s fulfilling yours and your audience’s needs. Ask yourself the following diagnostic questions to understand how your organisation is approaching your website.

Have you defined what you want your site to achieve?

By defining what you want your visitors to do when they visit your site, you will be able to draw up a list of desired goals. Goals are the desired outcomes, actions and activities that you would like your site visitors to perform whilst visiting your website. For example: filling in a form, booking a ticket, making a phone call, downloading a guide, watching a video and so on.

You can then track these goals in Google Analytics to keep an eye on how your site is performing.

Have you tested the user experience on your site?

You can use Google Analytics to record and track what people are doing on your website, but there are a number of other tools you can use to test your website user experience.

It’s very important test usability on both mobile and desktop versions of your site. The experience will be different on each device and potentially have its own set of challenges and issues.

Your options include:

  • Visitor feedback surveys
    • A pop-up form to ask questions about experiences on the website. You can ask questions like: what is the purpose of your visit? How did you find our website? Did you find what you were looking for today? You can trigger the form to pop up when people leave the site, visit a certain page or spend a certain amount of time on your site. o Example survey form providers: Survicate, Surveymonkey, Google forms.
  • Heatmap tools
    • These allow you to visualise how visitors act on a particular page on your website. This information helps you understand usability issues with your website. o Example services include: Crazy Egg, ClickTale, HotJar.
  • User testing
    • Testing the site with small groups of users from each of your target user groups, giving them specific tasks to perform on the site then asking them for feedback on the experience. o Example services include: User Testing, Userlytics, Usability Hub.

Does your site have a security certificate?

An SSL security certificate creates a secure link between a website and a visitor’s browser. This means any data passed between your site and the visitor (via a contact form for example), remains private and secure. It will encrypt the data and protect it from being stolen by hackers.

An SSL secured website shows a locked padlock in your browser bar and starts with https:// (not http://). There are different levels of Security Certificate, and unless you are collecting extremely sensitive data or credit card information, a standard Domain Validation SSL Certificate should fit the needs of most websites.

Your website hosting company should be able to help you install the right one for you. The standard level certificates are usually free to issue. I have written an article about SSL certificates that you can read for further information.

Is your web address owned by your organisation?

Sometimes the person who registers the domain for an organisation does it in their own name, or the agency who builds the site has ownership.

It is crucial for your organisation to own and have access to the place where your domain name is registered, so be sure to get this transferred to your control while you can.

If you do not know these details, your domain name could expire, you may lose control of your website or you may not be able to make changes to where the site points to, should you ever need to change it.

If you do not have access you may find it very difficult to get the domain name transferred to your ownership, especially if you do not know the name and email address information associated with your domain name.

While there are services out there that allow you to attempt to reclaim websites, such as Nominet, due to GDPR issues they may not be able to help if you cannot contact the people named on the register.

What Next?

This checklist has addressed some of the basic checks you can do to make sure your website isn’t missing anything important. With the information in this guide you can begin to make changes to your website which will improve user experience and address any security issues. To learn more, you can read one of the articles linked below.

The Digital Culture Network is here to support you and your organisation. Our Tech Champions can provide free 1-2-1 support to all arts and cultural organisations who are in receipt of, or eligible for, Arts Council England funding. If you need help or would like to chat with us about any of the advice we have covered above, please get in touch. Sign up to our newsletter below and follow us on Twitter @ace_dcn for the latest updates.

Original article by Roberta Beattie. Article reviewed on 24th February 2021.

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