Automated tools to examine your site’s performance – the first in our new series
Automated tools are an objective way to validate aspects of a site’s performance. Here is the first of our automated tools blog posts that every web owner needs to know about.
Is your website like an old raincoat that’s seen better days? Did it once look smart but now no one gives it a second glance, and it’s not much use in a storm? Are you tempted to dump it?
While you don’t want to have to learn how to write code, you’d like to understand websites in the same way as you would your mobile phone.
So what to do?
Perhaps you’re deterred from confiding your worries to your website designer or developer for fear of a wall of jargon. What’s SEO when it’s at home, or a CTA?
Here’s how to put yourself in the driving seat.
Automated tools test for aspects of a website’s performance. They rule out human bias.
I’ve selected automated tools that are free and easy to use. No signing over your life’s details – just tap in your url.
I’ve chosen each automated tool to highlight a particular topic.
Remember, improving your website is a lifelong process. There are no silver bullets. You’ll need to work on several aspects at once and keep an eye on what your competitors are up to – no site operates in isolation.
Before we get started, a note of caution.
Like an MOT, automated tools will highlight violations of basic rules and indicate what to explore further.
They are best used to check specific technical aspects of your site. Would you rather trawl through every page of your site to identify broken links, or simply use the broken link checker tool?
Don’t expect automated tools to do everything, though. By definition they’re not best for subjective matters, for example whether a user finds a site easy to navigate, a blog engages its readers, or whether the tone of design and writing conveys the values an organisation is trying to project.
With that caveat in mind, let’s go.
A website won’t function well or rank highly in searches if it is not coded properly. So checking – or ‘validating’ – your HTML and XHTML code will highlight any technical problems.
W3.org is the website of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the organisation that sets standards for website coding and other related technology. Think of it as a kind of MOT. The W3C Markup Validation Service won’t tell you whether your car can go faster than the competition but it will tell you whether it’s roadworthy.
Occasionally, it’ll raise irrelevancies rather like a spellchecker does. However, it’ll give you a useful snapshot of the technical elements of your site.
Once you have fixed any blips, you’ll receive a W3C Validator certificate to put on your homepage – a great quality symbol, of which more in a later post.
W3C also offers a paid service that ‘checks your entire website and evaluates its conformance with W3C open standards’.
There’s also a free W3C CSS Validator, which checks that the Cascading Style Sheets (see the jargon list) on your website are correctly used and don’t pose a risk to usability. This again allows you to post a W3C certificate on your site.
I hope these automated tools prove useful in improving your website’s performance. We will feature more in future blogs.
In the meantime, what is your favourite automated tool, and why?