So I’ve been looking for a place to board Dobby when I travel, and for the occasional doggy daycare when the weather is bad or I have a lot of work to do. I found a couple of different options, and guess which one I chose? The one that was more expensive, with the longer drive.
Because their website worked.
Option #1 — let’s call it Puppy Playground — was cheaper and closer to my apartment. To apply, I had to fill out an online application — the entire thing. Name, address, emergency contact, a long questionnaire about the temperament of my dog. I submitted the form, which produced a “thanks for your submission, we’ll call you” notice and… nothing else. No email confirmation, no follow up call, nothing. I figured the contact form didn’t go through, and I meant to call them for more information. But do you think I remembered to do that?
Option #2 — let’s call it Dashing Doggies — was the more expensive option located further away from my apartment. To apply, I filled out a basic, quick online form — just my name, contact info, and a few details about my dog. I submitted the form, got a notice to check my email for more info, and immediately got an auto-response in my inbox attaching the full application form with a note that someone would be in touch to schedule the interview. A few hours later? A personal response in my inbox saying they’d love to meet Dobby for a free day of camp. The application was a fillable PDF, which I was able to fill out and print off quickly to bring with me.
Consider this your friendly reminder (as much for myself as it is for you!) to make sure your website works. After all, the web is constantly changing, so unfortunately you can’t just set it and forget it — you just never know when a plugin might become outdated or conflict with something else on your site. A few things to consider:
1. Test your contact form.
Does the form submission go to the correct email address? Does it actually submit? Can you change the confirmation text to give your visitors more information? Can you set up an auto-responder so your visitors can be sure their form went through?
2. Test your newsletter opt-ins.
Make sure your own email address isn’t on your list, then enter it in your form, and make sure it’s added to your list. Once people enter their email, they aren’t going to do it again, and they probably won’t notice that they aren’t getting emails from you.
3. Test your website links.
When you tell people to go to this page or that, does your link actually send them to that page?
[Tweet “Start the year off right and make sure your website works!”]
Have you noticed any other areas where websites may not work?