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It's the little things...

15 August 2011

It is amazing how often the little things in life can make a big difference to us. We tend to focus on trying to fix the big problems, but sometimes little tweaks can yield surprising results.

Don't get me wrong. Sometimes big changes are required in order to fix things. I reviewed a website the other day that was so fundamentally flawed in its design that only a major overhaul would rescue it. If your website falls into that category then this article is probably not for you!

If you believe you have a good website but it did not score as well as you had hoped when you submitted it to SA Web Awards, this article could be for you. The tips below highlight the little things that the SA Web Awards administrators often find when they review websites.

Spelling and Grammar

Spelling and grammatical errors affect the perceived quality of your products and services.

Poor spelling and bad grammar are two things that can put people off an otherwise-good website. Time and time again websites that are submitted to SA Web Awards score lower than they should simply because their content hasn't been through a spelling and grammar checker.

Websites are often dismissed or overlooked because of poorly written content. It is possible that your sales are not as high as they should be because spelling and grammatical errors are affecting the perceived quality of your products and services.

Also remember that South African English uses UK spelling, not US spelling. Therefore we see things in "colour", not "color"; we measure in "metres", not "meters"; we "analyse" rather than "analyze".

Stale Content

You want to find something online so you search Google and click on the first link in the search results. The page that pops up looks OK at first, but after a few moments you have some concerns. You notice the "Latest News" box on the home page was last updated 18 months ago. Then you notice that the copyright notice at the bottom of the page is dated 2006. So you go back to the list of Google results and click on the second link in the list of results... Need I say more?

Broken Links

People are easily frustrated when things don't go their way. In this fast-paced world in which we live, we expect everything to run like clockwork or else we move on. For your website this means that everything should work properly. Any faults on your website are going to chase your visitors away.

Any faults on your website are going to chase your visitors away.

If you have any off-site links (i.e. links to other websites) you should check them regularly to make sure they are still alive. Your on-site links (i.e. links to other pages on your site) should also be checked regularly, especially after any major updates to your website.

Of course it's not just broken hyperlinks that require fixing. Any bugs or problems with your website should be sorted out. You should get into the habit of testing your website using different web browsers. Common problems, in addition to broken links, include faulty JavaScript and untested paths of execution. In other words, you need to click on every link and option that a visitor will be clicking. Do not assume that every untested bit of code is perfect.

Under Construction

If a section of your website isn't ready for the public then don't tell them about it! You may think that telling your visitors that a page is "Under Construction" or "Coming Soon" will encourage them to come back, but in reality it will just encourage them to move on to another website that will give them the information now.

I strongly recommend that you leave pages off your website until they are ready to be published. And remember to remove any menu links to those pages until you publish them.

Image Quality

If you have images on your website - and chances are you do! - then you need to ensure that they are clear and crisp. Images with JPEG artifacts reflect poorly on the overall quality of your website.

The common web image formats (JPEG, GIF and PNG) are each suited to a certain type of image. Our Graphics for the Web article will give you a primer on which graphics format to use depending on the type of image you are working with.

The most important image on your website is your logo. You would be surprised at how many websites we see with shoddy logo images. It is imperative that your website's logo and other graphics that represent your brand are top quality.


In this article I have covered five of the most common easy-to-fix problems that the SA Web Awards administrators encounter when reviewing websites. If your website falls foul of any of these then you can be sure that the time spent rectifying the problem will be time well spent.

Further Reading

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