When was the last time you audited your website?
…do you run regular website audits?
Website audits have really bugged me over the years.
- Most audits are basically automated reports which are not helpful.
- They list out the problems but not the solutions.
- The companies delivering the audits perform the audits to sell their services (i.e. they are used as lead generators).
We set up RazorAudit to solve these issues.
But we’re not here today to talk about RazorAudit. We want to share with you a checklist for running a comprehensive website audit.
It’s the most detailed checklist you’ll find on the internet.
Ready to get started?
Why do audits always uncover issues?
As you add content and make changes to your website mistakes creep in over time.
For example, you compress all the images on your homepage to make it faster but you don’t do it on blog posts.
The following shows a before and after using Tinypng. Can you see any difference in image quality? There’s definitely a difference in size!
When you look at your website every day you develop some blind spots.
An audit is like getting a regular checkup.
You identify problems before they get bad and you also pinpoint any ‘red zone’ issues that you need to take care of asap.
A good audit is an action plan.
It displays problems.
It provides solutions.
Ok, read on!
What are the main reasons people look for a website audit?
Here are the main reasons:
1. The website is not performing as well as it should be
Maybe your conversion rates are low, your competitors are achieving better results or you’re not driving the traffic you should be based on the work you’re putting in.
2. You want to build a new website
You may have already decided to build a new website but first you’d like to be clear about what works and doesn’t work with your existing website.
An audit will help you formulate the requirements.
It could also result in you realising that you don’t need a completely new website after all!
3. You want a second opinion
Maybe you have a very clear picture of the issues on your website and the possible solutions.
You just want a second opinion.
So, if you want to run a website audit here’s what you can expect.
We have broken it down into 11 areas, each concerned with different aspects of your site.
What’s involved in a website audit
The following is the list of categories we audit for any website.
You may notice that there is an overlap in many categories!
A website audit can be a full in-depth analysis of your website or an audit of specific areas to find common and not so common problems.
The audit is split over many areas but there are some overlaps.
If you’re doing the conversion audit part of this guide you will also need to do the traffic audit.
But…usability effects conversion so try that one also!!!
Let’s go through a summary of each area of the comprehensive website audit we run for our clients.
SEO is the process of optimising your website/content to help you drive more relevant traffic.
Typically your number 1 traffic source will be organic searches in Google.
And this is true even if you haven’t even done an audit or implemented associated improvements.
Imagine the results you could get if you made an effort to audit your website and fix SEO issues.
Here is an example of what you might audit for SEO:
- On page analysis – Is content on your site sufficiently optimised?
- Backlink analysis – Do you have a healthy backlink profile?
- Technical SEO – Is the website crawled correctly, what technical errors are there? Is the site structured in the right way?
- Internationilisation – If the website is catering for multiple countries/languages how is this set up to maximise search volume?
- Local SEO – Are you taking action to drive local traffic?
User experience is all about the experience the user has while interacting with your website.
As designers, our goal is to make designs less frustrating and, in the process of achieving that, we’ll make the design more delightful.
Jared Spool, Maker of Awesomeness, UIE
Is it easy for users to navigate through your website?
Can they understand what it’s about in the first few seconds upon landing on your website?
Are user journeys easy to complete?
Are users clear about what they can do on your site e.g. explore relevant content, purchase a product, sign up for a service, etc.?
UX covers a broad range of areas all focused on satisfying the intent of your website visitor. We break it down into the following:
- Visual design and visual hierarchy
- Information architecture and navigation
- Interaction design
- Typography and readability
Your brand is how you want to be perceived by your audience and it contains online and offline elements.
Your brand is a core part of the reputation and recognition you build online. It’s an ongoing investment that yields profitable returns.
Ian Cleary, RazorSocial and RazorAudit!
Branding plays an important role on your website.
When your visitors arrive at your website they form an impression of your business very quickly by looking at your logo, colours, fonts, layout, imagery, messaging, etc.
Statistic: It takes 50 milliseconds for users to form an opinion of your website
A regular brand audit will make sure that your target audiences are seeing your brand the way you want them to.
Plus, you’ll find out how well your brand communication meets your business goals.
In addition to looking at what our website visitors see, we also need to check what’s going on behind the scenes.
This is where we’d use a selection of tools such as Google Analytics to audit the traffic to the website and what’s happening with that traffic.
We want to check:
- Traffic levels – Is it going up or down over a short or long period of time and what’s the reason for this?
- Referral sources – Where is the traffic coming from and what traffic is converting?
- Conversion funnels – Overall conversion of traffic
- Noise – What traffic is displayed that shouldn’t be (e.g. Bots)
- And much more!
When your visitor arrives on your website you want them to take action.
An action could be…
…buy a product
…sign up to an email list
…watch a video.
The action could also be getting a visitor to spend time on your website so they can get familiar with your products, services and your company. Without spending that time they won’t buy your products.
The conversion audit assesses the actions you want your website visitors to take and identifies opportunities to improve conversion.
Great content helps you deliver a great user experience.
It builds trust in your brand and motivates people to buy from you.
Here’s why a content audit is important:
It analyses your website content, including copy, blog posts, images, and videos and provides insights into what you can improve.
You’ll understand what your audience is responding to.
You’ll also have the insight you need to maintain consistent messaging and style, improve your SEO results, boost your conversion rate, and more.
We learn from our competitors.
At times it could be what not to do….
…or what we really need to do!
When it comes to our competitors, we want to understand…
- What they are ranking for?
- What content they produce?
- How they position themselves as a brand?
- ….and more
Technology / Performance Audit
You need to build your website on top of a solid foundation.
From a technology standing, you need to look at the platform the website is built on, what integrations it has, what technology issues will cause concern going forward.
Note, a useful research tool is Builtwith which you can use on your competitors websites to see what technology/plugins/themes your competitor website is built on:
And what about performance?
More than 50% of visitors expect your site to load in three seconds or less.
Website performance hugely impacts user experience, visitors’ trust in your brand, and ultimately your ability to convert visitors into customers.
Accessibility is making sure that as many visitors as possible, regardless of disability, can browse, interact and perform the necessary actions on your website.
An example is making sure a user can increase text size without any impact to browsing or performing actions.
One of the main standards for accessibility is WCAG. You might be tempted to only look at the latest standard which is 2.1 but this is just additional items that are tagged on to version 2.0. So you need to consider both!
We often think that designing for accessibility means making sure we’re catering for people with visual, hearing, or physical disabilities…
And that’s the primary goal. But there are more benefits of accessible design…
For example, enabling users to increase text size is useful in many different scenarios:
- You have visual impairment.
- You refuse to get glasses even though you really need them, like me!
- The lighting is not great.
- You’re on a small device such as a Smartwatch.
- You are viewing the website from a distance (e.g. someone is presenting and showing the website).
So, yes, accessible design is for people with disabilities (permanent or temporary) but it’s also useful in other situations that would require changes to the website.
The gold standard for accessibility is WCAG 2.0 and 2.1.
Why both standards?
WCAG 2.0 is still valid. but WCAG 2.1 adds another 17 important areas to WCAG 2.0.
So yes, we need to adhere to both.
I opened up my website one day and it was in Russian.
I don’t speak Russian and I never wanted a Russian website!
Yes you can get hacked or your data can be compromised.
It’s important to batten down the hatches and have a process for dealing with such issues.
You can be so secure that no one can access any information on your website but you can also be so laid back about it that hackers can hack your website at will.
It’s about getting the right level of security.
Data Protection & User Privacy
This is an increasingly important area that you need to pay attention to because of the regulations.
What’s even more important is to support a website visitor’s/customer’s right to keeping their personal information and data secure and using it only in a previously agreed-upon way.
GDPR, CAN-SPAM and other regulations all come into play here.