A beginner’s guide to completing a website audit

Ignite Online - 20 December 2018

Ever get the feeling that your website isn’t working as effectively as it could be?

In truth, there are endless amounts of steps you can take to improve a website, but it can be difficult to even know where to start!

Since the new year is upon us, it’s the perfect time for new beginnings. We’ve put together this handy dandy list of questions to help you analyse your website and make sure you’re getting the basics right.

If the answer to any of these questions is “I don’t know,” that means you need to add it to a list of things to fix. Once you’ve put together a list of existing issues, a reliable team of digital experts can assist you with implementing solutions. Let’s get started!

First up: the common sense checks. No special tools or software required, just attention to detail.

  • Have you proofread all the text on your site for spelling and grammar errors?
  • Click every link on your site. Do internal links open in the same window and external links open in a new window?
  • Fill out any forms on your site – is the information being sent to the right place?
  • If your website has any custom functionality, test this too. Buy a product, log in, use the search bar – is there anything you haven’t clicked on lately? Is everything working correctly?
  • Do all the pages and images on your site have metadata, titles and descriptions? If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, it’s very easy to add this in yourself.

Next, think about how easy your site is to use, and if it is designed with the visitor’s needs in mind.

  • Is there a clear CTA (call to action) on every page? For example: “Contact Us” or “Buy Now.”
  • Is the styling and formatting correct? Are colours, fonts, images and layout cohesive throughout the site?
  • Is there a clear menu hierarchy and site map structure? Can the user easily find the information they need?
  • Is the key content accessible above the fold? This means the user doesn’t need to scroll down to find out what the page is all about.
  • Are links clearly recognisable? Do they stand out on the page and have a hover effect? This makes it obvious that they’re “clickable.”

If you’re going well so far, nice work! Now onto some slightly more technical points. 

  • Have the images on your website been optimised for web
  • Does the site have an SSL certificate? If you see a message in the address bar that says “not secure” when viewing your site, get onto this ASAP. An SSL certificate not only guarantees website security but is also required by Google.
  • Are there regular backups being taken of your site? Do you know where it’s being hosted, and how to restore the website if something goes wrong?
  • Have you tried viewing your site on other devices? Think about how many different phones, tablets and computer models there are out there. How does your site perform on all of them?
  • Similarly, does your site display correctly across multiple browsers? You’ll need to check Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge… and keep in mind the unfortunate souls who are still using Internet Explorer but still want to visit your site.

Finally, here are some third-party tools to utilise.

  • Is Google Analytics set up? Is it correctly tracking events and conversions on your website?
  • Have you checked for broken links using Screaming Frog? Have the required 301 redirects been set up?
  • Have you tested the site using SEMrush? This digital marketing powerhouse can provide you with SEO recommendations and flag any issues.
  • Do you know your site speed? Use https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ to find out if you’re in the green, orange or red.
  • How accessible is your site? Find out by using a tool like https://tenon.io/

There’s quite a bit to get through here, and this is just a starting point. The most important thing to keep in mind while conducting a site audit is that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” By following these steps, you’re well on your way to making your site the best it can be!

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CRITICAL STEPS TO CREATING HIGHLY EFFECTIVE WEBSITES

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Includes a list of useful online tools