I typically do at least 10 and often more Website Audits each week.
There are many reasons to get or have an audit done. It totally makes sense for someone who is considering investing in, starting or buying an online business to review not only the usual profit and loss statements etc., but also to perform an audit on the website itself to identify what works and what maybe could be improved.
Another excellent reason to have an independent website review done is to help us step back from our own blogs and websites so we can see them as others do – with or from a completely different perspective.
What I learned from the process was the value of having others review a site to see if that path was really intuitive to a first time visitor and would they actually take the action I wanted them to. I quickly realized that my home page simply asked too much of my visitors – it almost ‘expected’ them to know what they were looking for or to actually sit and navigate their way to the products page through a barrage of superfluous information, that up to that light-bulb moment, I believed with all my heart I needed to have on there.
The first time I had a focus group look at a site, one I should add that I thought at the time, was in pretty good shape, I was stunned at the results. Having created most of the page content, I was so ‘close’ to it I’d instinctively navigate right to whatever I was looking for because I knew exactly where to look for it, but that was rarely the case for a first time visitor!
Once I recognized the danger of being too close to your own content I understood the importance of having others review your website, not only for layout and navigation aesthetics but also for general usability and ideally this kind of review should be done on a fairly regular basis as you make updates.
So what should a website audit look at in order to be useful and ensure you end up with a solid plan to proactively improve your website?
6 Elements Of A Website Audit
- Visual Appeal
- Navigation & General Usability
- Traffic Analysis
- SEO Analysis
- Inbound & Outbound Link Analysis
- Social Media Metrics
An honest and constructive review of each element should generate a solid To-Do list to keep you busy tweaking for a while. Again I would encourage you to engage help to get a ‘real world’ view of your website as a first time visitor may experience and work their way through regardless of what page they arrive through (remember that may not necessarily be your home page) or which one they leave from.
The objective of any website is to create a pleasant experience for your visitors, preferably one that results in them finding exactly what they need, makes them want to hang around at least long enough to make a purchase if you’re selling a product or services and hopefully find your content interesting enough to at least bookmark so they can find it again easily or even better to share via social media (because you definitely made it easy for them to do that right?) and last but absolutely not least you want them to sign up to be notified of posts via email or their favorite reader or RSS feed.
That amounts to 7 opportunities to engage your visitor on one level or another and a good site should hit home on most if not all of these. Again though these are basics relative to your website or blog, the admin and operational aspects of your business are an entirely different element of your online business and that’s another post altogether.
I think most of us look at our websites daily but let me ask you this, what do you think is essential to a good first time or even repeat visitor experience? Let me know in the comments below…