Downtime is great for internal housekeeping, from organizing the project folders on your hard drive to cleaning subscription emails you’ll never read out your inbox. One productive option is to take a critical look at the user experience (UX) of your own website. Here’s a quick checklist to get you started.
Tighten Calls to Action
How tight are your calls to action? If there’s generic text (such as “click here” or “learn more”), can you turn it into something more action-oriented? If your copy game already feels strong, can you tighten the proverbial torque on those action words? This can be a fun–and useful–time for A/B testing. Another exercise is to pull your website up next to some of the websites you admire and study your copy vs. theirs. This will often lead you to tweak something you hadn’t thought of before. Remember that clear calls to action get more results.
Declutter/Improve White Space Ratio
While you have your website up next to other websites, look at how much more white space they have than you. When calls to action are concerned, a lack of distraction for your users is key. Here is the time to practice the tenets of minimalism. Channel the terse, direct prose of Ernest Hemingway (without lampooning). Be your own editor and get out that red pen. Hack away at the excess.
Improve Other Graphic Design Elements
This might be a great time to improve your banner graphic or to make your dropdown menu more intuitive. Too often, graphic design improvements take a back seat to everything else in your life. Remember when you would spend a whole evening working on a project in Photoshop? Maybe try that now. Design a new logo or shave the file size of all of your images. Try a bold new color scheme.
Direct the Flow of Traffic
Along with design and copy elements, how smooth is the process of doing anything on your website? This could be anything from signing up to a newsletter to buying a product. An easy way to improve the UX of your website is to complete those processes yourself, especially if money is changing hands (read more about the art of the e-commerce funnel). If you are selling something, is it possible to reduce customer friction in any way?
Examine the Details
When looking over the UX of your website, get detail-oriented. What happens when you click a bad link? What does your 404 page look like? Could it be more useful? If you have a search function on your website, what happens if a query doesn’t return any matches? Is it a page with the text “No results found” and little else? Maybe you feel like the six people who read your blog don’t care, but implementing a more elegant solution might teach you a new skill set.
Always Be Testing
The actual quote is “Always be closing,” and it’s a mantra for salesmen out of “Glengarry, Glen Ross,” but if you operate a website you should always be testing. Put that coffee down. Coffee’s for testers only. If your budget is what one normally expects of a personal website, you might benefit from asking your relatives to navigate around over the holidays while you watch and jot down a note or two. But you should never underestimate the benefits of split testing, and there are free/inexpensive tools for A/B testing that you can try.
In closing, think of it this way: Operate your personal website like it’s a mini-version of the big leagues, and you’ll be more proud of it when you use it as a portfolio website on your resume.