A Website Audit can improve your ROI (and respect) at least 7 different ways, here’s how:
Website Audit Definition
The definition of a website audit for UX purposes is to evaluate both behavioral data (visitor actions) and user experience data (task-flow other UX vs. best practices) to identify issues and recommend opportunities to improve conversion.
Take My Website – PLEASE!
Sometimes a website audit can make you feel like you get no respect, as if you are the Rodney Dangerfield of the web.
Side note: Odd how many companies do not respect their own websites. I’m not sure why that is, but a separate follow-up study may be needed.
In any event, I digress…
“My psychiatrist told me I’m going crazy. I told him, “If you don’t mind, I’d like a second opinion.” He said, “All right. You’re ugly too!””
– Rodney Dangerfield
But I’m here to assure you that a website audit, specifically an audit of your website’s UX, can and will make your website ROI better, and get you the respect from your website visitors (and bosses) that you deserve. Here’s how…
Website Audits Can Improve ROI
Improving the ROI of a website is best accomplished by ‘fixing the leaky bucket.’ What I mean by that is finding and fixing the issues that are causing website abandonment, task flow failure, poor visitor engagement and disappointing conversion.
There are many variations of website audits, and all have their unique value. These include:
- Accessibility Audit
- Analytics Audit
- Conversion Optimization Audit
- Page Speed Audit
- SEO Audit
- Usability Audit
- Website Competitor Audit
However, I like to combine the best elements of several of the above audits into a comprehensive website audit that evaluates the larger user experience. This is a great way to ensure all the data available is utilized to analyze the website and make recommendations for optimization. ROI improvements based on recommendations from website audits are typically significant and quick.
Website Audit Elements
The two categories of information that a website audit evaluates are the critical elements of a well done audit:
Behavioral Data – Behavioral data will define what actions visitors are doing (or not doing) on the site. This data typically comes from website analytics tools such as Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, Coremetrics, WebTrends, etc. Typically this data includes information such as:
- Overall website performance conversion data
- Paid search conversion data
- Organic conversion data
- High-level PPC keyword data
- Website bounce rate
- Visits by browser
- Screen resolution
- Top content
- Content paths
- Length of visits
- Location (by geography)
- Page fold
- Operating Systems
- And more…
User Experience Data – UX data includes information about how the website compares to usability and UX best practices. This data comes from tools such as the 5 second test, eye tracking, usability testing, and a comparison of the critical website interaction elements versus best practices (sometimes called a heuristic or website review). This type of data typically includes information such as:
- Elements that are or are not attracting attention
- Page fold ramifications on CTAs or critical copy
- Form field best practices vs. existing forms
- Navigation flow and labeling
- Product page elements vs. best practices
- Contact Us page elements vs. best practices
- And more…
Website Audit Findings and Analysis
The website audit includes a document with detailed findings and analysis of the behavioral and UX data that precisely defines where the website is performing well, and where there are opportunities for improvements. The subsequent recommendations are then tested, typically with A/B testing, to verify that the optimizations are having the desired benefit.
I always include screen shots of each of the items being audited, with callouts that explain what the issue and opportunity for testing could be. These can sometimes be fairly large documents, upwards of 70 to 90 pages. But because the information is presented one item at a time getting through the analysis document is easy, and fairly quick.
Advantages to Website Audits
There are at least 7 primary advantages to website audits, they include:
1. Ability to use website data to prioritize A/B testing: Nothing beats using your actual website and UX data to define and prioritize where your conversion is not optimized. This removes the guessing game that too often occurs as part of A/B or Multivariate testing.
2. Benchmarks existing versus potential conversion: By using the data from a website audit as a benchmark, the down-stream changes to traffic, navigation flow and conversion can be quantified. Benchmarking removes much of the guess work out of determining if conversion improvements based on testing are temporary, or permanent.
3. Pinpoints issues: The analysis of the website audit provides pinpoint clarity on which elements of a page, form or flow are potentially hindering performance. Specific recommendations can be extremely detailed, which helps focus where to spend testing resources. If you’ve ever heard the principle of “don’t throw out the baby with the bath water” you’ll understand and appreciate the detailed approach of a website audit
4. Clearly defines success: Many of my clients appreciate the incremental value that comes from the analysis of a website audit, in that they appreciate knowing what ‘success’ looks like. When A/B testing, how do you know you’ve truly optimized the ‘B’ version to achieve maximum success? Unless you have data that defines what that success looks like, you don’t really know how successful the test could be. A website audit provides that ability to better define success.
5. Doesn’t ‘fix’ what’s not broken: Too often companies optimize using an ad-hoc approach to testing. Sometimes this causes something that was working just fine before, to work poorly, or not at all. A website audit helps define what’s working from what’s not, so that items that are working well are left alone, and items that are not are tested and optimized.
6. Maximizes resources: Unless you have a full time optimization team, the odds are that testing is but a small part of your overall work activities. Maximizing your time and other resources is crucial to optimizing ROI. Spending time optimizing only that which needs to be optimized makes your resources that much more productive.
7. Proves your value (and earns you respect): Facing your bosses and answering to them for how you specifically are helping the company can sometimes be a challenge. Having the demonstrated results from the testing that comes from a usability audit provides you with a plethora of actual data that precisely defines how you are contributing to ROI. Nothing speaks better to your bosses than data that proves you (and thus they) are adding value to the company. You want respect, give them optimization numbers and you’ll get it!
Conclusion: Website Audit Improves ROI and Respect
A website audit and the resulting optimization of the conversion of the site can greatly improve the ROI and performance of a site. It can also provide you with the respect you need. If you have any questions or would like more information on how you can use a website audit to improve your website ROI just contact me. By using the results of the website audit, you will have a more informed, prioritized and clearly defined road to improving the success of your website.