As this is my personal blog I don’t regularly do health checks on it. A health check includes clicking every link and interactive step on the process. If you run a business with an online presence this is an essential regular step. Don’t wait for the log entries to alert you, and most users wont bother.
Two examples today.
A friend publishes a business magazine. I visited its website and decided to use the contact us page to give them some feedback (I encouraged them to add Firefox to their up-to-date browser check). Of course the contact us script crashed. It’s one of many things designers don’t test remotely.
Check all links localy and remotely in as many different browsers as possible.
Now that I am no longer conveniently located next door, my uncle’s book business decided to upgrade and outsource their web site. I was their technical resource and my price was perfect (free). Cheap was the order of the day. Funny how they suddenly have a budget to do what they claimed wasn’t important (a lesson for another day). So they’re going with an e-commerce hosted solution and a mid four figure budget.
They hosted their old site on a machine sitting in their offices. That’s not too bad as they merely wanted a web presence – static catalogue without online ordering.
But they currently get between 300 and 500 search engine keyword hits per month on their products. Not bad traffic for people who aren’t trying.
What did their new web designers do? They built a beautiful ecommerce enabled website for them and totally changed their structure, without maintaining or redirecting their old static files. This will result in valuable free search engine traffic (a.k.a. pure gold) getting dreaded HTTP 404 “file not found” errors. So they’ve thrown away google pagerank and qualified traffic.
I sent their designers a quick note. I wonder if they’ll fix it?