Improve your online presence

For years, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has been a buzzword throughout the Internet community. Companies have spent large amounts of money and used all sorts of tactics in an attempt to rank high on targeted search page results. SEO is certainly one factor that is helpful in driving new business to your site. But have you considered the user experience?

Picture this. A new prospect hears about you and does a search to find your website. They click on the link that shows up in the search results…and your site throws an error or performance is not what the user expects it to be. According to Statistic Brain the average attention span in 2013 has decreased to 8 seconds and 17% of web site page views last less than 4 seconds. If your page doesn’t load properly and quickly, most users are going to quickly move on.

So what can you do? Here are some helpful tips based on my years of experience administering web sites.

Present users with friendly errors

Errors happen. However, a user should never go to your website and get an ‘ugly’ error, that is, a default error that is generated by the web server. Your application should have error handling that traps every conceivable error and presents the user with a friendly error page.   Since I like to focus on ASP.NET, here is a good link with some information on trapping errors.

Don’t just think of internal errors on your site. If you are loading content from external links, each of those should be wrapped in try…catch blocks. There is nothing worse than having your entire site go down because an external link becomes unavailable. It is much better to have a friendly error in place of an external feed while still allowing users to navigate and utilize the rest of your site.

Be prepared for traffic

Now picture this scenario: You’ve developed this great site and you have all the resources in place to take care of new clients. So you invest in a marketing campaign where some TV star talks about your product on their show. Your idea was brilliant and hundreds of viewers pull out their smart phones and head to your site to check out this new product… and it bombs out with the surge of traffic. What can you do?

There’s often little you can do after the fact. Your marketing dollars may have been wasted as hundreds of users have already lost interest and moved on. But careful preparation can prevent this from happening by doing performance testing of your site. Check out this helpful link on using Web Capacity Analysis Tool (WCAT) to do performance analysis on your site. (3) You should have an idea of how your website is going to perform in different situations.

Monitor your site

You’re trapping all errors for a user friendly experience and you’ve optimized your code to make sure it can handle spikes in traffic. Now you should make sure that your site is monitored 24/7. If you don’t have the budget to hire a managed hosting company to monitor your site, you should at least monitor the site yourself. UptimeRobot is a free site that you can configure to check your site every five minutes and alert you if there is a problem. While it’s not as comprehensive as the monitoring services we at OrcsWeb provide, it is better than not having any monitoring at all

Use a Reliable Host

Your site is only as good as the server it is hosted on.   Even the most awesome site won’t perform as expected without a great back-end infrastructure. At OrcsWeb we pride ourselves in having a team of experts to monitor your site 24/7 and perform advanced troubleshooting when you do encounter errors. With a wide range of products from a standard shared website to a complex private cloud for the ultimate in flexibility and redundancy, many companies choose to rely on us to keep them up and running – 365 days a year. Even on Christmas.

Follow these four tips and you’re sure to provide a good experience to users of your website.