We’re getting ready to launch a new website and going through the final checklist stage. In the midst of this, I got a message from a client whose site I rewrote a few weeks ago.
The bounce rate had risen.
“Bounce rate” refers to the percentage of people who visit only one page of a website and leave. In general, you want a low bounce rate. Sometimes a site redesign can raise the bounce rate by making it easier for visitors to find what they’re looking for — say, a phone number or store address — but usually you want the bounce rate to go down rather than up.
When I checked the analytics, I saw that some old pages were still getting visits, because they were still in the search results and had not been redirected to the new URLs (web addresses). Visitors got a “that page doesn’t exist” message and many bounced away.
We weren’t the designers on this project, so I could only suggest that he tell his guys to do the redirects and then submit a new site map to Google through his webmaster tools.
If your site is about to launch, though, run through this handy checklist with your guys and catch this kind of thing before launch:
- Is the load time fast? (May have to launch before testing.)
- Is the user path smooth? (Test with volunteers outside the company.)
- Is your navigation correct across the site?
- Are all the pages connected to one another correctly?
- Is your logo in place and current on all pages?
- Is there contact information on every page?
- Is the contact information correct?
- Do all the forms work? (Test them.)
- Does the shopping cart work? (Test it.)
- Do the email links work?
- Are the colors consistent? (Hover over links.)
- Are there any broken links?
- Are social media icons hooked up completely?
- Are all plugins, etc. configured?
- Are spam filters installed and configured?
- Are there any misspellings or grammar errors? (Hire someone to check if you can’t tell.)
- Are analytics installed?
- Are staff filtered out of analytics?
- Does it look good on multiple browsers?
- Does it look good on a smartphone or tablet?
- Do images load instantly, or should they be optimized?
- Is all information (staff names, hours, services offered) correct?
- Have 301 redirects been completed?
- Has 404 error page been customized to encourage visitors to remain onsite?
- Has a new site map been submitted to search engines?
Check all these items off and you’re ready to launch!