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Quick Steps to a Clean Website

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"All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up." – Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard

There isn’t much I dread more than a root canal, but a comprehensive website audit comes dangerously close. And the websites under my purview pale in size compared to some of the larger city, state and federal ones! #Imalightweight

So, instead of crawling under the covers and binge watching old movies, I did some research and came up with a set of small steps to be completed quarterly intended to add up to a comprehensive audit by the time I’m ready to celebrate the new year.

Here’s a quick rundown of steps to take on a regular basis to make any website a blockbuster.

Inventory and Analytics – First Run and Repeats

One of the best investments an organization can make is a third-party web governance tool. It crawls your website on a regular basis and without bias looking for misspellings, broken links, readability scores, ADA compliance, SEO and more. For a more personal review, use your web tool to export a csv file of your page inventory which can then be turned into your progress report/gradebook.

Regular analytic checks for page ranking helps identify which pages in the inventory to hit first. If you only have so much time in the day, don’t waste it on a page that got precisely three unique views all year.

Sort your inventory progress report based on page rankings, and then set about the business of actually putting your eyes to the page.

Grade First, Corrections Second

Get out your virtual score paddles and rate each page based on a high level overview.

For content, look for spelling, grammar and predetermined formatting issues (i.e., AP or Gangnam style). Are your paragraphs dense with text? Do you use subheads to categorize longer content pages? Do keywords appear in your subheads? How much white space is there? Is it the information current?

Quick design criteria include cohesion between your images and text. Is the page overloaded with either? Are your images from this millennia? Do your colors complement each other or look like too many vegetables in the blender? What about how it looks on a mobile device?

This, of course, is not intended to be the be-all list-of-lists but a quick, regular way to review your pages to keep them clean and consistent. If a page scores low on both content and design and ranks high in analytics, it gets fixed first.

Enhancement Road Map – Be Like Marvel and Plan On Sequels

Any website that receives regular check-ups deserves to get a superhero boost. Dedicate time in quarter two to use findings from quarter one to identify weak pages with important content then give them a mini-upgrade. Incorporate embedded video, 21st century graphics or highlight the content through social media. Spend the next three months geared toward flawless ADA compliance. Finish out the year with a goal to improve readability and SEO rankings. Most web governance tools have capabilities to help in these last few areas.

Again, this is fast and furious look at ways to maximize time through prioritization and upgrades done in small chunks. Whether you have staff assigned to website maintenance or you are a one-person-show, great things can be accomplished one step at a time.

What are some ways you ensure your websites are always ready for their close-up? Let me know in the comments below – I am always open to suggestions and process improvements!

Kathleen Vaught is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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