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Second rebranding of Shelley Bassett

Conducting a website audit: a guide to web redesign


March 26, 2020

A website audit is an important first step when redesigning or rebuilding an existing site. These steps will help you audit any website.

Redesigning a website isn’t an easy task. When confronted with an existing website that has an overwhelming amount of content, or just a small amount of poor content, finding a starting point can seem impossible. No matter how big or small, the first step should be conducting a website audit.

A website audit is just the evaluation of a website an it’s content. Look at what you have to work with; the good, the bad and the ugly. Don’t let anything sneak under the radar. Now is the time to determine what is valuable, and what needs to go.

Second rebranding of Shelley Bassett
Second rebranding of Shelley Bassett

Building a website from scratch is a simple task. Rebuilding something with existing content is a much greater challenge. Before you can start, you need to pull it apart and look at its bones. How are things structured and grouped? How do different types of content interact? Is this site taking advantage of all the channels the company uses?

Find a sitemap

A current sitemap is a really easy way to see what’s happening. Their main purpose is for search engine crawlers to identify all pages on a site, but they’re also a valuable source of information about the sites structure. The sitemap for shelleybassett.com has information on post types, urls, images, links, creation dates and products.

Of course, you could identify this information manually by following links on a site, but an automated and comprehensive sitemap makes this process far easier.

Look at content categories

For a website with a blog or shop, look at how the posts and products are grouped together. Mind-mapping their relationships into categories and sub-categories can help identify when they should be combined, nested or even removed.

Brainstorming different topics for a website
Brainstorming different topics for a website

It can also be beneficial to note the number of posts or products in each category. Categories should reflect a business or sites main goals. This information can help refine or eliminate low-performing groups, or identify places where more content needs to be produced.

Check for analytics

Is the website equiped with analytics from a tracing program like Google or Amazon? Delve into them! If not, it might be a good idea to install a tracking code and look at the data coming in during the redesign process.

analytics snapshot
A snapshot of Google Analytics

Pages with a high hit rate, good search traffic or that provide solid sales leads should be analysed to identify what is working well for the site. These methods can be adapted across

Conduct interviews

Having access to the sites users is an imperative part of redesign. Wether you direct access to users (ie, an office intranet), a mailing list or just place a survey on the home page, any feedback will be invaluable to learning just how people interact with the site. Be sure to also find out how they intended to use the site. The difference is subtle, but can provide deep insight into what should be included on updated pages.

Usability should always be at the forefront of a website redesign, and there’s no better way to get this information that asking the current users.

Prioritise information accessibility

Usability is key, and accessibility is a huge part of achieving this. Without accessibility, many users will simply find your website unusable. Check for contrast of text and how text-to-speech systems read your site. Checking that images have captions and descriptions is also important, and something a sitemap can help with. The A11y Project is a great resource to help identify places your site could improve.

Integrate social channels

Social media is big business, and has a huge impact on website traffic. It’s valuable to look at how social media users interact with your social platforms (including feed posts, messages and shares), as well as how those users translate into website users. Most social media platforms give page administrators access to analytics to help identify theses interactions.

It’s worth considering these channels as separate user groups, while also considering where they have the same goals. Your twitter account might be incredibly popular for it’s witty short-form text, but when users need detailed information, how do they find it? Is it a help page on the website, or a message to the twitter inbox? Consider ways to link social media and your website so they work together instead of against each other.

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