A website audit is an examination of your site that shows what’s working well and what isn’t. It provides a high-level view of how your site meets user needs, complies with relevant laws, and drives business success. In doing so, it highlights issues that need fixing and areas for improvement.
Website audits might focus on specific aspects of your site, and they can go into varying levels of detail—it all depends on your purpose and needs. Think of it like a check-up with your family doctor. Sometimes you go in for a general assessment: you give information about diet and exercise, and do a routine blood test. Other times you’re there to discuss specific aches and pains, and perhaps get a physical exam.
Some website audits are simple enough that they can be automated and run regularly, helping you ensure your website stays on track. But there are times when you need a manual and expert-led audit to provide greater insights.
Manual audits are an essential start to any digital project. They provide valuable findings in the Discovery phase to help validate objectives and shape your strategic approach. Don’t have a project yet? A site audit can also help you plan your website’s future.
Which Aspects of My Site Should I Audit?
In this article, you’ll learn about 5 essential types of website audit:
- UX design audit
- Technical website audit
- SEO & content audit
- Multilingual readiness audit
- Web accessibility audit
These types of audit often overlap and you might want to combine several (or all) of them for maximum insight. At Evolving Web, our website audit services can be adapted to your specific needs.
Read on to explore the why, what, when, and how of each type.
UX Design Audit
A UX design audit helps you understand how users interact with your website—including which content they engage with and whether it’s easy to find what they need. This type of audit looks at things like the information architecture, navigation, visual elements, calls to action, and search experience.
Delivering a great online experience is how you drive engagement and keep users coming back—whereas a whopping 88% of online visitors are unlikely to return to a website after a bad experience. A UX audit helps you:
- Identify UX issues – things like unhelpful search results, users getting lost on your site, and calls to action that nobody clicks.
- Uncover UX opportunities – you might discover new and underused ways to meet user needs and drive engagement.
- Inform your digital strategy – the findings from your UX audit will help you make evidence-based recommendations for the future of your website.
- Get buy-in and budget – the findings may also help you get stakeholders on-board and make a case for investing in UX design.
A UX audit is useful for sites that have been around for a while, whereas usability testing is more suitable if your site is relatively new. Doing a UX audit every few years can help you keep up with evolving user expectations. It’s also a good idea to perform one if:
- Your services or audiences have evolved
- You’ve noticed usability issues or complaints from users
- You want to get more out of your site or develop a new digital strategy
- Site admins and content editors find it hard to maintain and grow the website
- You’re conducting a Discovery phase at the start of a website redesign project
Depending on the scope, your UX design audit might include:
- Analyzing web analytics – looking at things like how people find your site, how long they spend on it, which pages they visit, and how they navigate content. If you have a digital experience platform (DXP) you may have access to advanced tools for analyzing user behaviour like session recordings and heatmaps.
- Creating user personas – these are fictional users who represent the needs of a subgroup of your target audience. For example, a university might have personas like “the Prospective International Student” and “the Part-Time Postgraduate”.
- Mapping user journeys – this gives you an idea of common routes that users are taking to get to information on your website. It’ll show you if they’re struggling to find relevant content or missing important calls to action.
- Assessing user feedback – you might review existing data from customer communications, or do surveys and interviews to get more insight.
- Heuristic evaluation – ideally you’ll get an expert (like those at Evolving Web) to do a page-by-page review of your website to see if it follows UX best practices.
Technical Website Audit
A technical audit reviews the performance, security, and maintainability of your website. It helps you understand if your site is safe, secure, and speedy to use—as well as whether it has the flexibility to evolve. This type of audit looks at code, configuration, databases, and development workflows.
Your site’s underlying technology should empower you to deliver a reliable service to users and to grow your digital presence. A technical website audit can help you:
- Address security risks – it’ll uncover vulnerabilities that could lead to cyber attacks and data breaches for example.
- Improve performance – you’ll find opportunities to increase efficiency and speed up page load times.
- Gaps in capabilities – it’ll highlight opportunities to enhance your site’s functionality with things like modules, third-party plugins, or even a decoupled architecture.
53% of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
It’s a good idea to conduct a technical audit of your website if:
- Your site is getting old, slow, and buggy
- There’s a lot of legacy code that’s making hard work for web developers
- You’re preparing for a website migration, e.g. upgrading from Drupal 7 to Drupal 10
- Your site could benefit from advances in technology and development best practices, such as AI tools in Drupal and Single Directory Components (SDCs)
Depending on the scope, a technical website audit might investigate:
- Core files
- Extensions and themes
- Third-party plugins and components
- Server and site settings
- User permissions and practices
- SSL/TLS and renewals
- Website traffic and off-page SEO
SEO & Content Audit
This type of audit looks at the quality and structure of content on your website, as well as your workflows for managing content. It includes an analysis of on-page search engine optimization (SEO) tactics that help users find your content via search engines like Google.
A website content audit allows you to:
- Spring clean your content – a content audit provides a clear view of what’s on your website, including pages you may have forgotten about or didn’t know exist. It helps you identify content to optimize, update, or remove. It’s like a good wardrobe clearout!
- Enhance your content – you’ll get valuable insights to inform your content strategy, including what new content to create and ways to optimize your existing content.
- Boost efficiency and consistency – insights from a content audit can help you streamline your site architecture and content workflows. It can also be a step towards creating a web governance plan or Digital Asset Management system.
It might be a good time to audit your web content if:
- You’re updating your brand narrative, brand voice, or content strategy
- You don’t have a suitable content governance model in place
- It’s been years since your site had a content audit (or it’s never had one)
- Content is out of date, confusing, or hard to find
- You’re planning to migrate, overhaul, or extend your website
- There have been big changes to your services or content/marketing team
An SEO & content audit can include:
- Scanning your site – if you have a lot of content, you might want to use a tool like Screaming Frog to scan your site for SEO issues, download hundreds of URLs, and generate sitemaps.
- Creating a content inventory – this is a catalogue of all existing content. It includes details such as content type, URL, tags, metadata, page views, author, and publish date.
- Analyzing web analytics – key metrics such as engagement rate, page views, and conversions can give you an idea of the quality of your content. You can also see how your content is ranking for certain keywords and spot any keyword cannibalization.
- Mapping out workflows – a web content audit is an opportunity to examine your processes for creating, publishing, updating, and monitoring content, including which team members are responsible for what.
53% of marketers say that updating their content helps increase engagement.
Multilingual Readiness Audit
Does your organization serve an audience that speaks more than one language? This type of audit helps you prepare your site for multilingual content and integration with a translation module like Lingotek. It reviews your existing content, technologies, themes, and workflows.
A multilingual readiness audit will help you:
- Identify barriers to integration – you’ll save weeks of corrective development work by addressing potential problems early on.
- Identify display issues – this can include text in images that needs translating manually, and visual elements that weren’t designed with multilingual content in mind.
- Protect the user experience – an audit helps you spot and fix issues in advance, ensuring multilingual content can be rolled out on-time and without errors.
It’s a good idea to perform this type of website audit:
- When you’re considering adding multilingual content to your website, perhaps because you’re expanding into new markets.
- Before deciding on and integrating a translation module.
An multilingual readiness audit can include:
- Reviewing your website’s themes, technologies, workflows, and content including images and documents.
- Validating site architecture, determining how components display content, and verifying the correct settings to identify content that needs translating.
- Assessing risk and developing a remediation plan with suggestions for modifying code as needed.
Our team at Evolving Web has launched sites that are translated into as many as 10 languages. We’ve also contributed to Drupal’s core multilingual systems and the Multilingual Migrate module. Get in touch to talk to an expert about auditing your site’s multilingual readiness.
Web Accessibility Audit
Web accessibility is the practice of building digital experiences that everyone can enjoy—including people with disabilities. A web accessibility audit helps you identify barriers that make it difficult for certain people to use your site.
Auditing the accessibility of your website will help you:
- Be inclusive – many people rely on the web as their primary gateway to information and services, so it’s important to make sure nobody gets left behind.
- Expand your reach – improving your site’s accessibility helps you engage a wider audience; in Canada alone around 6.2 million people have a disability.
- Ensure compliance – your organization may be required to comply with accessibility laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Accessible Canada Act (ACA), and provincial or state acts.
It’s a good idea to run a web accessibility audit:
- As soon as possible if your site hasn’t had one before
- At the start of a website redesign project
- When there are changes to the accessibility laws that your organization must follow
- Regularly — ideally you’ll run an automated accessibility audit every 3-6 months to spot new issues. It’s also important to do more in-depth audits to keep up with the latest best practices and the evolution of assistive technologies.
A website accessibility audit can:
- Assess your level of compliance – you can conduct a specific WCAG audit or ADA audit to see how well you meet the requirements.
- Identify specific violations – this highlights accessibility issues that may cause you to fail compliance, such as insufficient colour contrast on certain pages. The audit should include recommendations to fix the problems.
- Suggest areas for improvement – an expert accessibility audit can help you take your website beyond WCAG compliance. It might include testing compatibility for assistive devices (e.g. screen readers, head wands), as well as ways to improve content with plain language and customize experiences for users with disabilities.
Get Expert Support on Your Website Audit
For more than 16 years, Evolving Web has been delivering reliable advice, creative ideas, and ambitious digital platforms to leading organizations across North America. Our website audit services will give you the data, insights, and recommendations you need to take your website to the next level.