You could say performing an annual UX website audit is today as essential to the health of business strategy as the top-down inbound marketing strategy that brings prospects into your website in the first place.
Firstly, because of how rapidly customer needs, habits, expectations, tolerances and attention spans are changing.
Secondly, because of how much pressure Google’s search-engine algorithm changes are putting on businesses to keep websites fast, helpful, navigable and relevant in order to compete in search.
What Does an Insightful UX Website Audit Look Like?
These are 6 core website audit areas we’ll tackle:
- Navigation (website sales-funnel journey analysis)
- Content (How well visual and written content assists buyer journey)
- Trust & Persuasion (How well your site wins over new visitors)
- User interaction (How much opportunity users have to help themselves)
- Forms (lead capture / contact)
- Search (search bar-sorting-filtering)
We also delve deep into competitor analysis and provide a detailed report on what your website is doing right and wrong vs brands you’re rubbing up against.
Roll your website into our UX website audit workshop and we’ll report in detail on all of these areas. Drop us an email and we’ll quote you.
Google’s June 2021 Core Update Announcement
It’s worth approaching this essential UX website audit checklist via the news that Google recently unleashed a major search algorithm update that strengthens the case for doing a website audit frequently.
In short, Google’s 2021 algorithm update caused SEO disruption for many businesses—while some gained ranking places, others dropped.
Google did at least provide content guidelines to inform business owners of ways to strengthen and protect website rank from being affected in future algorithm updates.
This UX website audit checklist is written with exactly that in mind—helping you protect your SEO rank from future Google algorithm updates.
Have a Clear Purpose for What Your UX Website Audit Hopes to Achieve
When you start a new health routine, perhaps with a personal trainer to keep you in check, you typically have a plan and a set of goals.
UX website audits are no different. When you decide to run one, make sure you understand first of all what website conversion problems you’re trying to solve and what the finish line looks like in terms of website performance, or even sales improvements.
Having a set of SMART goals is a great way of ensuring your UX website audit is done with purpose and direction.
SMART goals are:
Failing to set hard, specific goals means your ux website audit will find itself down a vague rabbit hole of frustration, without any real conscious value or direction.
One of your goals might simply be to have the website audit and resulting optimisation actions increase your Alexa score by x-thousand places in 3 months.
“Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion”.
– W. Edwards Deming
Measurable goals need to be numeric. When setting goals for your UX website audit, don’t set vague goals like ‘we’re aiming to make website experience better’.
Quantify that sentiment into something measurable. What does better look like in practical terms? It might be a collection of things, like reducing page load times, removing buyer-journey friction and so on.
Remember, UX website audits are a starting point for diagnosing website weaknesses. When setting website audit goals keep them realistic.
If your overarching goal is to appear in the top-5 links in Google search results, your website audit goal might be to uncover all the things that will prevent you getting there, like broken links and dead pages you didn’t know were lurking.
Realistic goals are a little different to ‘achievable’. Where achievable focuses on available resources, like time, money and manpower, ‘realistic’ goals focus on the scope of the actual goal.
Unrealistic website audit goal – Convert 100 more visitors per day to new business.
Realistic website audit goal – Increase conversion rate from 3% to 6%.
When setting UX website audit goals, set a schedule for actions and match your goals sequentially to those actions. That way you can keep a steady rhythm for performing and completing your website audit—you’ll also be able to start planning when you might start addressing the issues the website audit will uncover.
Once you’ve clearly defined what exactly your UX website audit will achieve, you can get started.
Start With a Thorough Google Analytics
What is Google Analytics audit?
Imagine taking your car on a journey for an entire month without first getting an MOT! In the same way, you wouldn’t implement a time-consuming and costly marketing campaign, if you didn’t have the correct data.
A Google Analytics audit is a structured process, including essential checks to make sure your web analytics are tracked correctly.
Why should a UX website audit start with a Google Analytics Audit?
Google Analytics data will highlight issues corresponding to real world data. Discrepancies in reports that relate to peaks and dips in revenue, for example, could be indicators that data is incorrect.
Running an audit of your account so you can be sure your analytics are accurate is a great starting point to fully understanding and optimising the user journey.
Run a Website Speed Test
Besides simple convenience, why is a website speed test important?
# It Boosts SEO Rankings
Google’s aim is to make the web faster for users. They announced in 2010 that website speed will be factored into the ranking process.
It’s also worth noting that if your website takes longer than 2 seconds to load, Google won’t send the crawlers in. That means Google won’t pick up your latest blog post, or recent update.
# Improves Web Traffic
40% of users will abandon your site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Tests showed that Amazon would lose $1.6 BILLION every year if they slowed down by just one second! Give people what they need, fast.
# Increases User Engagement
Social media and on-demand news has created an impatient bunch of users. Anyone looking for a quick answer or immediate result simply won’t stay, let alone engage. Don’t waste a share button if they aren’t even going to even see it.
Run your speed test on the home page and other key conversion pages 3 times, and then take an average. If page-load times exceed more than 1 second, you have a big conversion problem on your hands.
Asses Your Website Navigation
Good website navigation is a huge google-rank factor and a key element for user user experience.
- Use tools like HotJar to run real-time user-journey analysis (includes heat-mapping, mouse-tracking and other visually intuitive user-behavior analysis tools).
- Ensure your website navigation journey caters for the sales-journey model known as AIDA (attention, interest, desire action).
- Identify points of friction such as journey roadblocks, confusing anchor links or frustrating hover issues. Learn what your customers see and feel.
Poor navigation leads to journey abandonment which leads to low conversion, and a lack of sales.
Check How Well Your Content Builds Trust & Persuasion
Competence in communication is key to getting users to trust you. It’s all about making them feel safe, understood and looked after. Google actually evaluates websites on these factors.
Here are some things to think about when performing a UX website audit
- How authentic is the content? Would you believe you?
- Does the site speak to the visitor?
- Are there reasons to read on, agree, take action?
Information overload – particularly confusing jargon, is the fastest way to lose the trust and attention of prospects that might even have fit the bill of your ideal client.
Make Sure Every Step of the Buyer Journey Is Assisted by High Usability
Usability is fundamental to good navigation. They are closely linked and equally important. The ease of which your visitor glides around pages is the difference between leading them to the point of action, or not.
- Inconsistencies across devices, lack of slider controls, and broken product links are all causes of visitors abandoning at the point of interaction (potential sale)
- SEO tools like Ahrefs and Screaming Frog will crawl your site for you and find all the broken links.
- Keep the communication going – let them know what’s happening every step of the way. It’s easier to be patient when you know what you’re waiting for.
Neat menus that are quick, accessible and easy to understand, won’t waste the user’s time. This means those users get to where they and you want them to go, faster.
Hopefully this checklist goes some way toward giving you a flavour for the kind of things your website UX audit needs to do in what order so that those leads keep flowing through to conversion.