How to perform a website audit
Conducting a website audit sounds like a really big, scary, time-consuming chore, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ve simplified the task for you with six key areas to assess – along with a downloadable checklist full of useful questions, tips and tools.
You’ve figured out that your website is not up to scratch. Maybe you’re not ranking as well as you used to in search results, or the site has become buggy? Maybe you have grand visions – or a digital roadmap – that you can’t execute because your CMS is just not up to the task? Or perhaps you’re reliant on a developer to do anything more than upload a simple blog page…
Who you gonna call? No-one. Yet.
Any sensible website project begins with at least some degree of reflection on what’s not working and where there’s room for improvement. In short, you need to do a website audit.
What is a website audit?
A website audit is a high-level analysis of the factors that may affect a website’s performance. Generally this will involve benchmarking your site against industry standards and identifying areas which may require deeper analysis and attention. Contrary to popular belief, a comprehensive website audit is not just about SEO – and you don’t have to be super-technical to perform one.
But why do I need to do a website audit?, I hear you ask. The answer depends on where you’re at in the site revamp process, but some of the most common reasons for doing a website audit include:
- You need to convince stakeholders to invest in an upgrade or rebuild
- You are going out to market for a digital agency and you’re putting together a brief
- You need to outline a scope of work for your existing agency or in-house developers.
Regardless of which of these scenarios applies, having a clear idea of what’s wrong with the current site and where your priorities lie will help you focus your efforts and allocate your budget appropriately.
So what factors should you consider in a website audit? This can essentially be distilled into six broad areas: Content, Information Architecture, CMS, Speed, Design and Technical.
Your site’s content is the primary reason people are there. Its quality has a major impact on a user’s overall perception of your brand. As such, it needs to be up to date, accurate, and accessible to visitors with a disability or impairment. You should also assess your content to ensure that you are using appropriate calls to action wherever they might be relevant, and that it is reflective of the way people search for information on the topic. For more guidance on conducting a more in-depth content audit, see ‘How to conduct a content audit – and why you should’.
It’s all well and good to tick the box for great content but if no-one can find it, your efforts will be wasted. Most sites that have developed organically over a long period of time experience issues with content hierarchies and navigation. The question you need to ask here is: ‘Is my content structured in a logical, easy-to-find way?’ It can be easy to answer this question with a ‘yes’ if you’re very familiar with a site. User testing is a good way to overcome this, giving you an objective view of whether your site’s information architecture is ‘working’.
Your Content Management System should not be a barrier to effective online communication. If it’s too complex for your content admin staff to manage (mostly) on their own, it’s not doing its job. Spending an excessive amount of time creating new sections or page types (e.g. campaign landing pages) is going to impact productivity, and potentially even your speed to market. The answer is not necessarily going to be throwing the CMS out altogether – it may be that an upgrade to a new version is in order, or that the configuration is just not quite right. This is why an agency that specialises in your platform of choice can be a very good friend to have.
Page load speed is one of the key pillars of website performance. It affects everything from SEO and user experience (UX) right through to conversions. In fact, a mere one-second delay in page response can result in a seven percent reduction in conversions. There are many factors that can play into a website’s speed, but significant gains can be made through relatively minor measures like ensuring that on-site images are sufficiently compressed that they’re not adding unnecessary weight to a page. For more on optimising a website for speed, see 'Kentico Website Speed Optimisation Basics'.
Like sub-standard content, stale design has a huge impact on how people perceive your brand. Dated design gives the impression of a dated offering. When reviewing the design creds of your site, you should consider how it compares with competitors’ websites, and also whether it aligns with your current offline branding and marketing approach.
While we recommend having an expert review your site for technical considerations (e.g. technical SEO performance), there are ways to review this aspect of your site without having in-depth expertise. Relatively straightforward technical considerations may include: ‘Does the site have issues with stability? Are there a lot of bugs or errors? Are there problems with integrated third party tools or services? Is the site responsive (adaptable for different devices)? Does it support the organisation’s future digital marketing plans (e.g. personalisation, marketing automation, omni-channel content distribution, multi-lingual capabilities)? Will the platform scale sufficiently to accommodate future growth? Does it provide enough security?
These questions and more can be found on our downloadable Website Audit Checklist, along with a host of links to (mostly free) tools you can use to assess your site, and some quick tips to improve performance.
And of course, you’re always welcome to get in touch with us here at Luminary if you’d prefer someone else to do the heavy lifting on your website troubleshooting…
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