After putting in all of your hard work as a Newbie Webmaster, you would like everything to work properly once you have published your business to the web. This one piece of advice could make the difference between your business being a success or a failure…….
A friend on mine, John, spent months putting his online business together. He often stayed up all night working on research, web design, marketing etc… His poor wife and kids hardly ever saw him. As soon as he came in from his day job, he would shut himself away in the spare room and work on ‘the business’. Then finally, he declared that everything was in place. He had a great domain name and great number, fantastic niche products, an impressive website, a marketing and advertising campaign already to go. Everything was uploaded to the servers and traffic was starting to hit his site. “Wonderful” he thought. But………. He had made a vital error………
What did John do that was so wrong?
He didn’t do enough testing. Traffic was visiting his homepage, but most of the links didn’t work. They where unable to navigate to other pages on his site. The important pages, such as sales copy and free downloads where ‘unavailable’. If someone tried to sign-up for his eZine, nothing happened. What a disaster!!! The quantity of targeted traffic to his site was quite high, but no one stayed there for very long and no one bought anything. He wasn’t able to build his opt-in list Ezine subscribers that he could email with promotional material. All the months of effort resulted in a big-fat nothing. John was devastated to say the least.
So what did John do next? He could have given up. Thrown his arms in the air with disppear and cried uncontrollably. I know a lot of people that have done this, they have given up because the think that they have failed. But once again, he locked himself away in his spare room and went to work. Every link in every page was tested, retested and tested again. All the opt-in boxes and interactive options where given the same treatment.
What John did next…
He had 7 of his friends test it all over again. He asked them to go to his site and travel around it. Click the links to the pages, use his opt-in boxes. Do things that a customer would do. For their time and trouble he gave them each a free gift. A product that he was offering for sale on his site was theirs just for spending a few minutes surfing Johns site. They all did as they where asked. Guess what? No, it didn’t work perfectly. In fact, there where nevertheless several glitches. John fixed them and tested again. His friends visited his site once more. Hey Presto…..Everything worked.
Beware of ‘friends’.
When relying on friends to test your site and report back, there could be a ‘loyalty’ issue. They are after all your friends. Their opinion may not be completely objective. If a friend says “It was excellent John”, maybe they thought it was dodgy, but didn’t want to hurt your feelings. So only pick people that you know will be totally honest with you. Their brutality is for your own good. You need to know how a total stranger would feel about your site when they visit. What your Mom thinks isn’t really important.
Keep on testing………
As time goes by you have to make changes to your WebPages. Don’t forget to test the new additions. Get into the habit of checking that the older links are nevertheless in working order while your at it. By spending a little bit of time testing often can save you hours if not days of trying to put a problem right when things do go wrong. Also consider the customers that you could lose if your site/links aren’t working properly.
Concluding the story of John…..
John nevertheless continues to test the links on this sites. truly, he pays someone else to do it now. Do you know why? It’s because he’s earning $150,000 a year and he can provide to pay someone else. He spends most of his time jet-setting with the wife and kids he felt he had neglected in the early days of setting up the business. He nevertheless does testing himself now and then. He learned his lesson the hard way and he won’t forget it, ever…… When he spends time clicking by his sites links to make sure that they nevertheless function, he’s usually found doing so on his laptop instead of on his old pc in the spare room. He sits on the balcony of his brand new house, the sun shining as he gazes out at the beach in front of him.
So the #1 tip for Newbie and old-hand Webmasters is test, test and test again. Everything. Then get other people to do the same. Compensate them for their trouble if you can. Never over look how serious this whole testing thing is. If not done properly it can consequence in disaster and many online businesses fail because of it. Is your business gona succeed or fail?
Here’s to YOUR internet success,
Jane Harper, Webmaster