This is How I Plan a Website Audit
Whether it's finally realizing that they needed to bring their acquisitions under one umbrella, finally get their site translated for their key markets, or that "whoops!" - their website wasn't mobile-optimized enough, or that they had too many independent digital storefronts and needed to consolidate - when a company thinks of digital transformation, it usually involves their website. And every company I have worked with has embarked in some kind of digital transformation where the tent-pole project was the re-platforming, or re-imagination, of their website.
The best way to approach a website transformation project is through an audit of your existing platform, connected technologies and the reason why you're embarking on this path in the first place.
Step 1: Why Do I Need a New Website?
No, really - if you haven't really thought through the impetus for a website transformation, then chances are you're not going to end up with the product you wanted or need.
The first step in a website audit is to outline the drivers behind the decision. For example:
Your business goals shifted from retail to a retail/eCommerce mix and your website needs to support eCommerce transactions.
Your website metrics show little to no engagement on your site, which could be a result of the design and/or content layout.
Your website is still not mobile-optimized.
You acquired new businesses - you need to integrate their sites with yours.
A mix of the above.
All of the above.
Once you define the reason for the website transformation, your next step is identifying the goals of the website and outline key performance indicators (KPIs).
Step 2: What Should I be Investing In?
Coming up with your new website goals and KPIs means looking at your existing metrics and what your current business goals are. Website goals typically fall under the following categories:
And remember, all goals need to follow the SMART format - Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timely.
Brand awareness is such a broad term, I know, but if you're working on a website transformation because you've identified weaknesses in your overall audience engagement, brand relevance or your competitor is taking over segments you used to dominate in - brand awareness is a solid goal to have for your website
The metrics you should benchmark, and the KPIs you should include in your website project plan, are: site traffic, bounce rate, time on site, referral traffic, search volume, top pages viewed, new vs. returning traffic. Most of these can be found via the web analytics tool you use (e.g. Google Analytics), though search volume can typically be found through Search Console. These metrics show how your site engages and retains interest.
Whether it is purchasing a product on your website, or developing a lead-generation funnel, the benchmark metrics for identifying successful conversions are pretty straightforward. And the better you understand how customers engage with your site, the more likely you will be able to make changes and adjustments that improve conversion rates. Top-level KPIs to look for are:
Email Opt-in Rate
Average Order Value
Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate
You also want to review for metrics around engagement, as such as goal completion rate, referral traffic, desktop vs. mobile traffic.
UX/UI Improvement A good user experience will keep your visitor on your website. A good user interface will make it easy for them to take action on your website. Both of these go hand in hand, and the metrics you want to review as part of your audit (and keep as KPIs to measure going forward) are the ones typically classed under behavior. Because it’s the user’s behavior that will ultimately inform whether your UX/UI is working or not.
Metrics such as:
Time on Site/Page
Average Bounce Rate across specific site sections
Other measures you should be reviewing are use of navigation versus search bar, Net Promoter Scores (NPS), and any usability survey data you have. If you don’t have the NPS or usability survey data at the ready, take some time during your audit to collect the data. Tools like HotJar allow you to integrate an NPS survey pop-up on your site seamlessly without having to invest in a lot of development work. And as for that usability survey – send an email to your existing consumers.
Step 3: What to Keep And What to Throw Away (Content Audit)
I love this part of an audit. It's incredibly cathartic to look at a piece of content and admit that it's not doing what it needs to be doing, and just getting rid of it. I've seen companies simply port over non-performing content because they didn't want to admit that what they have was bupkis. A new website cannot solve for poor content, and that's a fact.
Having the right content on your website is what will make or break it. It’s a simple truism, but it’s amazing how many decision-makers don’t prioritize effective website content. And your content should be what your audience is looking for – this is where the metrics review, determining top pages viewed, time on those pages and bounce rate is where you’ll see what has worked (or not).
The content that you port over into a new site format needs to be aligned with your defined business goals. If in your metrics review you’ve found content that hasn’t performed the way it should – you have two choices.
Determine if the content is salvageable, i.e. either via a revision so that it’s timely or a layout change. Sometimes a tweak is all you need to make poor-performing content great.
Kill it. Do not pass go. Do not Collect $200.
If manually going through your site content frightens you, know that once you do the exercise, not only will you have the most optimal content to port over, but a road-map for new content planning and a framework on how to continue to refresh and review content in the future.
Step 4: Technology Integrations
Similar to the content audit, now is the time to review what technology integrations you have within your website that you want to either remove, keep, or upgrade. This is also a good time to review whether there are new integrations that you should be looking to bring online in your new digital environment, based on the goals and KPIs you outlined in steps 1 & 2.
For example, if you decide that to improve your UX you need to have a lower barrier to entry to customer service, you might want to add a chatbot on your new site (if you haven’t used one before).
Now is the time to lay out your website wish list.
Step 5: Write it Out
When you develop a new business product, you typically map out the plan from conception to MVP to the first release. The same goes for a website – your audit should be laid out as the foundation for your project plan.
If you want to learn more about the website audits I’ve led, reach out.