Over the last few weeks, we’ve been looking at various aspects of creating a user-friendly website.

In this video, I want to focus on the broken bits on your website. Or at least, some of the bits that can break that you’ll need to keep an eye out for if you want to create a highly user-friendly website for your visitors.

Specifically, I’m going to talk about broken links, broken forms, and broken spelling and grammar.

Broken Links

Perhaps you think that it’s not that big of a deal if you have a broken link here or there on some of the less visible pages on your website. The reality is that broken links do contribute to a poor user experience.

Broken links are links on your website that lead to non-existent web pages. You may have broken internal links, where the page on your own website that you’ve linked to is non-existent.

Or, you may have broken external links, where a website other than your own that you had linked to, is now non-existent.

These 404 errors can result from:

  • a page is moved to a new website URL
  • a page is completely removed from a website
  • a typo in a website URL

And various other reasons.

Regardless of how they come about, your website visitors are going to end up on an error page, which is a frustrating experience.

The more frustrated your website visitors are, the harder it is for them to achieve their intended goals on your website and the less likely they are to stick around and convert into a lead or customer.

Therefore, you’re going to want to find any broken links on your website, and then take steps to fix them.

Here are a couple of tools that can help you locate any broken links on your website:

How to Fix Broken Links on Your Website

Once you find broken links, I would recommend that you take one of the following steps:

If it’s a broken link to a page that no longer exists on an external website, then you’ll need to delete the link from your website.

If it’s an internal link that is broken (for example, if you had linked to a case study on your own website that you ended up removing), then either remove the link or update it to a more relevant page

Finally, if there’s a link on your website that no longer exists but you know that some people may still end up going to that page (for example, if it’s been indexed by Google, or linked to in a directory), then you’ll want to create a 301 redirect.

What is a 301 Redirect?

301 redirects are used to redirect one web page to another.

Essentially you’re telling the browser, “Hey, the page you were looking for over here has now moved to a new location and we don’t plan on moving it back.”

Then, the browser basically responds with, “Cool, I’ll send the user over there now!”

If your website is on WordPress, you can create 301 redirects using this Redirection plugin.

Broken Forms

Along with broken links, it’s also providing a terrible user experience to present your visitors with forms that are broken. Plus it can result in you not even realizing that potential leads are reaching out to you!

I talked a bit about contact forms Creating a User Friendly Website: Contact Information, about the role of your contact information in creating a user-friendly website, but one more thing to keep in mind about your forms is that you can’t just assume they’re always working because they do break on occasion.

It’s really important to check and regularly test your website forms.

For example, you might have a plugin update, or perhaps you recently migrated your website to a new hosting provider, or something else might be updated on your hosting account. Whatever the cause, your form may have worked originally and then something interferes.

Meanwhile, you think your form is working and it’s not.

I recommend that you test your form monthly. Testing it can be as simple as setting a reminder for yourself on your calendar to send yourself a form message and to ensure that it goes through as it should.

Check that the user experience of submitting a form looks and functions the way it’s supposed to, and make sure that you’re receiving the email on the other end.

The last thing I want you to find out after you’ve been working so hard to get traffic to your website is that potential customers have been reaching out to you via your website’s form and you have not been getting those leads.

It’s going to be difficult to respond quickly to the potential business if you don’t even know the leads exist.

Why might I not be getting my contact forms?

There are potentially a couple of ways that you may not be receiving your forms.

First, if the form is broken and your prospective clients can’t even submit the form to you, they may just give up trying because it’s too frustrating – especially if you haven’t provided an alternate method of contact information to reach out to you.

However, you could also potentially run into a problem if something has changed with your email service provider.

A form can look like it has been successfully submitted, but you may not be receiving forms in your inbox due to being screened out as spam.

This is why you need to make sure that not only are the forms going through in the first place, but that you are actually receiving them on the other end.

Spelling & Grammatical Errors

Put simply, they’re hurting you.

Spelling and grammatical errors look unprofessional and they have a negative impact on your credibility. As a result, that can have an impact on the conversion of your website visitors into customers.

One study by Website Planet found that U.S. businesses with bad grammar and spelling mistakes on their websites will lose almost double the number of potential customers than those with typo-free sites.

They ran a standard ‘A/B’ test with two near-identical landing pages, one with a number of spelling and grammatical errors, the other with no errors.

The analysis of more than 5,000 site visits over a two-week period showed that the bounce rate was 85% higher on landing pages with poor spelling and grammar as compared to those that had no errors.

What is Bounce Rate?

Your bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave a website after only looking at a single page. This rate can have a long-term effect on your SEO.

Google watches how people interact with your website and then it factors that user behaviour into its search engine rankings. Your bounce rate is an indicator to Google of the value of your content.

A high bounce rate signals to Google that your website is not a good result for whatever key phrase was searched.

And that is going to hurt your search engine ranking.

Review your website with a fine-toothed comb. You may even have one or two other people review your site to ensure you haven’t missed any typos.

Additional Resources

Here are a few more resources to aid in making your website as user-friendly as possible.

Google Search Console

In addition to the broken link checking websites I mentioned earlier, if you set up Google Search Console on your website, that will usually be a good source of reporting broken links on your website as well.

Google Analytics

You can use Google Analytics to monitor and measure user behaviour on your website, including bounce rate.

Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test

If you’re not sure whether your website is mobile-friendly, Google provides a Mobile Friendly Test that you might want to check out.

Heat Maps

Heat map programs like Hotjar, Crazy Egg and Mouseflow can be very useful tools in order to actually see how visitors are interacting with your website’s pages, and this can also give you some great insight into the user-friendliness of your website.

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