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Talking Point – Website Audits

Throughout the working year much info is added to most organisations’ websites. The odd exception to this is those neglected websites that are never touched from the moment they go live; fortunately, these days there are fewer of those, as people generally appreciate the value that an up-to-date website brings to an organisation.

Your website is your shop front to the world, especially in these pandemic times when so much commerce and information dissemination takes place virtually, so it can’t be stressed enough the importance of keeping your website in pristine condition.

Common problems

While we might feel comfortable that a good amount of updating takes place on our own websites, it’s often undertaken by a range of people in an organisation with their own specific agenda or area of interest. Herein lies the first problem. Without a dedicated communications or marketing person to oversee the full website, it doesn’t take long for it to become messy and over-crowded.

The second problem is that those closest to the website don’t always see this. It just tends to grow on you and very quickly becomes the norm – gradual changes are usually not picked up by those familiar with them. Fresh eyes seem to see so much more, but how often are they used?

Check these out

The following is a list of the things you can check to see how your site is looking to visitors:

  • Design – ‘look and feel’
    • Is everything displayed where it should be? Or is there competition for the prime space? If there is, try using revolving banners and share the top spot.
    • Do all postings fit with the overall ‘look and feel’ of your website, or have they deviated from the original design?
    • Are the correct headings, fonts (style and size) and colours used? Refer to your website’s style guide if you aren’t sure of how it should look.
    • Are images properly sized, scaled and positioned in the appropriate places?
    • Are names or descriptions added to photos that require this, for example Award winners?
    • If staff or directors are featured in your ‘About Us’ section are their photos all the same size, using the same pose and background, and with correct role titles displayed?
  • Content – information and messages
    • Are there any typos – usually spelling, grammar or punctuation mistakes?
    • Is the wording too long and convoluted? Web language is much less wordy than print.
    • Does it actually make sense to those who might be visiting your site for the first time, or to those who are unfamiliar with your sector’s jargon/activity/finer points?
    • Has anything expired or become date-stressed? Has your organisation’s opening or closing times changed and this info subsequently been updated on your website? Has your season’s greetings messages been removed after the festive season has ended, or are you still wishing visitors a Merry Christmas in March? Are special offers, sales, events, elections etc, which have been and gone, still being displayed?
    • Are you displaying correct information regarding how your organisation manages or operates during a pandemic?
    • If your organisation is bound by specific government regulations, are these displayed on your site?
    • Have you updated your Terms and Conditions of trading recently? If so, have they been updated on your website too?
  • Technical – nuts and bolts
    • Does your website conform to current website protocols and standards? For example, can your site be used by people who are vision impaired?
    • Is your security up to date? Does your website have a current secure certificate? All websites should have secure certificates (evidenced by a padlock next to your website’s URL), if to only provide peace of mind to visitors of your site. Even if you aren’t doing financial transactions on your website, you must protect personal data such as login details, etc.
    • Are any links dead? Error messages such as ‘page not found’ are a bad look for your organisation, not to mention really frustrating for your visitors.
    • Is navigation simple and straightforward? There is nothing worse than being caught in a loop or having to click more than three times to reach the info you seek.
    • Do links from newsletters, emails etc point to the right part of your website or just land somewhere on the home page, leaving visitors to navigate on their own to wherever the message or call for action might be?
    • Timing-out is another frustration which can usually be easily sorted, though sometimes this is down to your upstream internet service provider doing upgrades to their system, or the site being overloaded with visitors trying to access special information etc.

Seeing your site through fresh eyes

Who checks your website on a regular basis to make sure everything is working as it should be? Rather than having the person responsible for their own section of the site checking it over, consider getting them to swap with someone from another section or team to do this. You’ll be amazed at the things that they will see through their fresh eyes.

It’s also helpful to have someone else navigate around your site too. It’s all very well thinking your site is ‘intuitive’, but it has to be ‘intuitive’ for the general population – not just you and the handful of people in your team who use it all day, every day and know it intimately.

Don’t create a storage unit

One thing we frequently see at Expert is a website that has become, in effect, a storage unit. This usually comes to our notice when a new client wants us to create a new website for them, or when an existing client wants their website redesigned/reskinned.

We start by looking at the client’s current website prior to the initial meeting, where our fresh eyes pick up things on their site that might need attention. At the first meeting with the client, we ask them to go through their site with us and we ask about anything that looks out of date, duplicated or badly displayed. We also ask them what they want to change and what problems they might have with their current site.

Invariably there will be navigation issues, search issues and site speed, and not surprisingly these can all be traced back to a cluttered and over-loaded website which probably started out fine, but has become a dumping ground for almost everything in the intervening years.

Have a spring clean of your site

I often refer to Marie Kondo and her approach to creating order in messy lives. Well, her tidying principles work well for websites too. Most people know how hard it is to find a particular garment in an over-stuffed wardrobe, which is usually full of previous seasons’ clothes that haven’t been worn for years, no longer fit, or were never much good to begin with, and have languished ever since purchase, often with the price tags still attached. Searching can consume a huge amount of time and create frustration. And often when you do find the item you’re looking for, there will be a button missing, a hem down, or it’s in need of a good wash and press.

If you’ve experienced this, and have gone on to have a big spring clean of your wardrobe, you’ll know exactly how good it feels. It can result in saving money too, as well as freeing up lots of time. Same applies to sorting out your website.

Schedule your website audits – don’t just do it once

Depending on how big your site is, and how often changes are made to it, you might want to schedule a site audit on a regular basis, say annually, with a quick once-over undertaken at the start or end of each month or quarter. As mentioned earlier, it’s a good idea to have an independent person take a look too, though make sure they have a great eye for detail and a strong grasp of spelling, grammar and punctuation.

In terms of portraying the right image for your organisation, the same applies to any publication you send out – ezines, newsletters, event notices. We can help you with this - Expert provides a proof-reading service. Please contact us if you’d like to know more.

All the best with it!

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Phone: +64 4 384 9833 | Email: us@expert.services
Address: 19 Tennyson Street, Te Aro, Wellington 6011, New Zealand
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