A website audit is the process for evaluating the effectiveness of your internal and external website experience. Today we’re sharing what it is and how to perform one.
When your business is brand new, more often than not, you’ve DIY’ing all the things. Your business, brand, and website are duct taped together. After all, your focus is on getting clients (as it should be), making money and creating some semblance of balance and bearings.
Fast forward a few weeks, months, or years and there will come a time when you are able to catch your breath, step back and evaluate. You have a little perspective because business is relatively consistent and you’ve gained clarity because you have been taking action and doing the work.
It’s about then that you realize the website you’ve been using to promote yourself and your business might be a little hodge-podged together. You realize that inconsistencies and inefficiencies with your website can cause confusion and frustration among your visitors.
So, where do you start?
A website audit will help you pinpoint where those gaps are showing up so you can make the necessary changes or updates. And today, we’re walking through the four-step process of conducting one on your own business
Let’s define it – what is a website audit?
According to Meriram Webster, an audit is a formal examination of an organization’s or individual’s accounts or financial situation. So, with that in mind, a website audit then, is the process of evaluating the effectiveness of your internal and external website experience. I say both internal and external because what happens behind the curtain is just as important as what your community is experiencing on your website.
Taking a closer look at an internal website audit.
Internally auditing the website means evaluating the effectiveness of the behind-the-scenes functionality. Think about things like plugins, themes, hosting – your community cannot see them but they will have an impact on the experience your website provides. Just because only you or a team member is able to access the back end of your website, doesn’t mean it isn’t as important to overall experience and functionality. If the tools aren’t working properly or it’s not easy for you to comprehend, the front-end user experience will be impacted because you either don’t take the action or the lack of a working tool affects the forward-facing portion of your site.
To get started with an internal website audit, ask yourself: What is the purpose and/or goal of my website?
As a service provider, I’m willing to bet your website’s goal is to educate and intrigue a visitor enough to book a consultation or discovery call. So, with that in mind, think through the functionality of your website from the back end. Is your website theme serving you well? Are you utilizing plugins and how are they serving you? Is there anything technology-related that is causing more of a headache than you expected? Are the various tools working together the way that they should or are you constantly putting out fires and resolving glitches?
Brainstorm and write down everything that comes to mind and be honest with yourself as to how that tool, software or system is performing. No action needs to be taken just yet – your goal is to evaluate where you currently are before coming up with a game plan for next steps.
Auditing the external website experience.
Evaluating the forward-facing website starts with, you guessed it, brand strategy. More specifically, looking at how the brand strategy is being communicated to your audience and community through the website design, layout and content. If you haven’t done any brand strategy work, jump over to this post and then come back.
When we audit the website, we’re looking at the consistency and cohesiveness of the brand communication. We evaluate how the website is being experienced against how you say you want your brand to be experienced in the brand strategy.
So with that in mind, look at the pages on your site and ask yourself: Is it clear who your target audience is and what you’re offering them?
If you aren’t sure whether or not you’re effectively communicating who the perfect-for-you ideal client is, have a friend or family member who hasn’t seen your website walk through each page. Ask them if they know who you want to work with and the problem you help them solve. If they aren’t able to answer in a minute or two, you know where to improve.
The second question: Is it clear why you believe the work matters?
There’s a wonderful saying by Simon Sinek that says, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Your website is the perfect opportunity to share your brand’s ‘why’ with the visitor. When they connect with your why, you’re able to build a stronger bond with them, resulting in more trust.
Third question: How do you want your brand to be experienced?
If your brand strategy response is fun, friendly and open but the website images are dark and moody, the content is snarky and sarcastic, and the overall flow is choppy and short, you know then that there is a disconnect between your goals and what is being experienced by the visitor.
Fourth question: Is it clear what you want the website visitor to do?
This goes back to the question you asked before diving into the back-end side of the website. Are you making it ridiculously obvious what you want the visitor to do when they arrive on a page on your website? It should be so simple and clear that if you were to ask someone that is unfamiliar with your site to poke around, they would be able to tell you within one minute what the goal is.
After the Audit
Okay, okay. So you’ve done the work and have a clear picture of how your website stacks up when it comes to clear, consistent and cohesive communication.
Well, it’s an unsexy answer but the logical next step is to work your way down the list. What’s the most pressing? What’s the easiest/quickest to change?
This isn’t something that needs to be tackled all in one sitting. Make a list and slowly work your way down it. The goal is to take small steps every day towards creating a consistent and cohesive brand and website that you’re excited and confident to share. Remember, be patient with yourself and keep moving forward.
All my best,
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