Regular check-ups

and an update on legislation about cookies

Newsletter No 5 - May 2012

Welcome to my email newsletter on the topic of Making Your Website Work for You.

A website is not a “set and forget” item. It has to work in changing social, business, marketing and legislative environments and it’s important to update your site to reflect these changes and to take advantage of them where possible.  So this month’s newsletter is about:

Regular check-ups
and an update on legislation about cookies

Time for a check-up!

I’ve just come back from a visit to my dentist. Not my favourite pass-time although Mike is a really nice guy who sometimes does the same circuit training class with me. It was just a check-up and “clean & polish”. It’s tempting to make an excuse and not bother – but I know it has to be done and there will be trouble later if I don’t…..

It’s the same with your website.

It’s a good idea to do a check monthly or at least each quarter to see that everything is working properly and delivering what you need it to.

  1. First of all check the content of your site. Is anything out of date? Are your contact details correct, have there been any staff changes? Are you still showing out-of date products, prices or events? Do you have new products, services, events, case-studies to add?
  2. Have a look at your visitor stats. Any interesting or alarming trends? Which sites are referring you most traffic – don’t renew any paid-for links (e.g. Yell or Kellys) that aren’t performing.
  3. Check which pages on your website are the most popular and see if they could be improved. Do they have a “call to action”? On the other hand are some pages getting hardly any visits? Maybe it’s time to get rid of them or give them a radical overhaul. Or possibly the navigation is missing out that page!
  4. Check your listings on free directories, especially local directories, to make sure they are up-to-date. Do a Google or Bing search on your company name and see where you are listed and what they are saying.
  5. Is your domain name due for renewal?  .co.uk  .org.uk names need renewing every 2 years,   .com,  .net etc vary from 1 – 10 years. You may have an agreement with your hosting company or web design or support person that includes domain name renewal – but make sure. you don’t want to be off-air or worse lose your domain name.

Keeping your website up-to-date is especially important if you blog, tweet or have a business Facebook page. Social network activity is great but can fall flat if your website isn’t current and doing its job.


Legislation about cookies

This doesn’t mean the calorie police are after us! 

It’s to do with concerns about privacy and intrusion. Cookies (the non-fattening kind) are small files containing a string of characters sent to your computer, lap-top, mobile, tablet etc. by a script on a website when you visit it. Cookies help the website understand how to provide the right service for you or to make the website work better. For example it may save your preferences for language, location or currency so next visit you don’t have to key all that in again. They are also used for analytics scripts (like Google Analytics) that help the website owner get a picture of how people are using their site.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued changes to the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations which take effect on 26th May and UK websites have to comply.

The directive on cookies is that users should be warned about the use of cookies on a site – preferably before the page opens up and any cookies are posted - and asked if they agree to cookies being used. If they don’t agree then the code using cookies must be disabled or the user directed elsewhere.

It’s not clear how the proposals can be implemented without too much intrusion into the operation of the website - especially where a web page delivered to the end user is served from several domains. There will be a lot of discussion about this in the next few months and eventually some kind of standard or best practice will emerge.

The general view is that, for the moment at least, if you’re just using cookies for Analytics it’s OK to post a notice or a link to a notice at the top of the page explaining that’s what you’re doing. This could be done as part of the website privacy statement, terms and conditions, copyright statements etc.

Actually it’s quite sensible, and good customer relations, to explain to our visitors how our websites work and that we are keeping their privacy in mind as well as creating a great on-line experience. See my page “About this website”.

I’ll be adding a page like this to the websites I support and will be in touch with clients to see if there is anything else to add.

For more about what cookies are and how they are used read my article on cookies >>

if you have any concerns or need any help with this please call or email me.

 

Best wishes and make your website work for you!

Sandra Dillon

If you found this useful and would like me to include any specific topic in a future newsletter please let me know sandra@realcom.co.uk.

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If you are considering a website for your business or organisation or would like professional help with an existing project please email me at sandra@realcom.co.uk or call on 01530 440000

Froggarts Cottage, School Lane, Coleorton, Coalville, Leicestershire, LE67 8HT