Have you done an audit on your website lately? Is it necessary to do one in the first place, anyway? Let’s get down to these and more questions.
A website audit is like your periodic visit to the doctor. Whether scheduled or not, you expect some news where you are either given a clean bill of health or otherwise. At the same time, whether you value the checkup or not, it is essential and advisable to have it from time to time. The bottom line is that there is some new information regarding your health that you are likely to receive.
Similarly, a website audit will help to diagnose issues that need improvement or even highlight areas where your website is doing better than competitors and you need to keep up. It is an essential component of a successful online presence.
What then should you look out for when doing a website audit? Here is a diagnostic guideline.
Check Out the Technical Stuff: Ensure its Perfectly Functional
A successful website is run through background mechanisms that your audience will not necessarily be aware of. Here, we are looking at issues such as URLs, additional plugins, backlinks, etc.
Each component of your website has a given function. For instance, URLs determine and dictate the location of your content. Plugins help in enhancing and analyzing performance, etc. Whereas these elements of your website are meant to help it work optimally, they can be a cause of slow response, non-functionality or outright sluggish performance on your website.
If and when the technical support system (including call widget and contact form) of your website is in the right shape, it is easy to work out other challenges that may arise.
At this point, you will also need to look at overall formatting and ease of navigation. But how do I know whether my website design and formatting makes navigation easier? As you carry out your audit, user experience should be a key matrix to guide you through. Use feedback provided by visitors to your website to know whether these elements are right. Looking at what competitors are doing is also another way of learning.
On the overall, the technical audit will look at elements such as design, structure, and ease of navigation among others.
Audit Your Content Management System (CMS)
Without well-curated content, your website is a nonstarter and a nonperformer. Period. The importance of content for website growth cannot be underestimated.
As you carry out your audit, do a thorough, in-depth look at how organized, relevant, and maneuverable your content is. For instance, if you have videos on your website, you need to ensure that they are of the appropriate length, quality and that they easily play when a user clicks on them. Just like any other content, videos that take too long to open are a put-off to visitors.
Content relevance is also imperative. When auditing for relevance, you need to evaluate the accuracy of information and how updated it is. A good example is an update on your new physical change of address, phone numbers or email. Just imagine how disappointed a client would be if they checked into an address appearing on your website only to learn that you have moved.
Similarly, check that what you feed your audience on is up-to-date. You may need to incorporate new elements such as graphs, photos or memes. Check this out to ensure they are reflected by an audit as it will tell you where your competitors are likely to gain an upper hand over you.
Remember, the overall intention is that you run ahead of the competition. In view of this, your audit is to be done with some focus on what your competitors are doing. If they have incorporated a new technology that is likely to wedge war against you, you must ride along.
Mobile Friendliness and Efficiency
With time, all things eventually change. We are in an era when mobile phones are dictating data consumption in a revolutionary way. For this reason, you have to ensure that your website is easily accessible on mobile.
In the UK, desktop driven traffic accounted for only 55.6% in 2016, with this number projected to continuously decline. This paints a clear picture of the mobile-first essence.
In analyzing this aspect, your audit should focus on elements such as the size of the icons and the overall response when the website is accessed through a mobile phone. In modern times, a website that is mobile-focused will ask you for a “mobile view” when accessed on a smartphone. Put this on your list as you plan for your next website audit.
How fast are your pages?
This element would probably have better fallen under technical elements but it is so important that it is better discussed on its own merit.
Website visitors determine within the first four to five seconds whether to stay or not. If your website pages take an average 10 sec and you still have folks hooked around waiting to read through, then you are a miracle worker!
Your audit should focus on two elements in regards to site speed: a) is it loading fast enough? b) What is causing the delays if any?
Doing a diagnosis on particular pages is the best way to go about it as opposed to doing an overall site audit. This is because the content on various pages will differ depending on the volume and nature of the content. For instance, a page that carries several photo and videos might be slower than one that has typed content alone. Nevertheless, the overall speeds should not vary so widely.
A website audit will be dependent on several variables. One of them is the content and the intended purposes of the website. An e-commerce site will ultimately be audited differently from say a news blog or entertainment blog. For this reason, each website should be evaluated on its own merit. However, proper functioning of any website is essential and the principles that guide good website performance do not change.
Generally, your audit should focus on elements such as speed, user experience, use of modern technologies such as artificial intelligence among others.