As part of planning an optimization road map, we always suggest doing a site audit or site review. However, this can be trickier than it sounds. When you’re working on optimizing a site, it can be really difficult to look at it with fresh eyes — and the eyes of a customer. These are my top 5 tips for conducting a productive site audit.
1. Have some data before you start.
Don’t go into a site audit blind. If you’re just stepping into an optimization role, you’ll want to collect some basic visitor data first. Some questions you’ll want answered before you start your audit are:
- What pages get the most and the least traffic?
- From which channels do customers or users arrive on your site?
- What are the bounce rates of your most important pages?
- Where are users dropping off?
- Where are users converting?
2. Create a very specific customer scenario.
You’re not going to get much out of your review if you don’t know what experience you’re testing. Whenever you do a site audit, create a use case and customer that you’ll navigate your site as. The more specific you can be the better. Some examples of scenarios to think about are:
- I moved to a small apartment and I’m looking for a sofa to fit a tight space.
- I want to change careers and I’m looking into programs for nursing school while still working full time.
- I’m a long-time member of the bank, and would like to transfer money to savings account.
It may sound limiting at first to create such specific circumstances, but this is how people use your site. There is still value in doing a broader site review, as a user with no particular goal who is browsing for something, but real visitors have specific reasons and goals. That’s what you want to replicate.
3. Know the metrics that matter to your organization.
When you start walking through your site, you need to know what a successful visit comprises. While the metrics that tie directly to revenue (like purchase or registration) seem the most important, the small conversions that lead up to that point are equally critical and also impact the bottom line. If you’re navigating your home page, what are some other successful paths that a user could take besides an immediate add to cart? Some metrics to consider are:
- Scroll depth
- Clicks on navigation
- Product detail views
- Search use
- Newsletter sign up
- Logging in to online account
4. Act like a customer, not like an employee.
This really echoes tip number two, and is probably the most important and most difficult point on this list. In order to get a real sense for where your site can improve you have to act like you don’t know the ins and outs of your brand. This is hard, as navigating your site is probably second nature to you, but keep deferring to your chosen scenario.
5. Have a game plan going forward.
Remember the goal of your site audit. You shouldn’t just be writing a list of problems, you want to come away from this with a list of concrete experiments you can run. Make sure you turn your findings into fodder for experimentation — not just the first step to a redesign. Remember, what works on one site doesn’t always work on another, and sometimes unexpected changes make the biggest impact.
At SiteSpect we conduct full site audits for our clients, and can help you turn that into a game plan for optimization. For more guidance on how to do a site audit, click here to check out this webinar I did.
For help prioritizing all the test ideas that came from your own site audit, click here to check out this video, and download the accompanying prioritization spreadsheet.