Is your website performing as well as it could? Does it communicate what you want it to? How do you know if it’s meeting the needs of your audience to the best of its abilities?
In preparation for our upcoming five-part Website Toolkit course, which starts March 31, we asked expert trainer Laura S. Quinn to share the 10 most important questions you should ask as you audit your own website. These aren’t necessarily quick or easy questions, but thinking about them seriously will help you identify key areas of strength and challenges with your current site.
1. Does it meet your goals?
Different organizations want different things out of their website. Yours won’t meet your organization’s goals unless you can define what they are. What are the top things you’d like to increase or decrease in the world, and then ask yourself: Is your website focused on those goals?
2. Does it meet your audience's goals?
This is an easy question to ask but a hard one to answer. First, you must define your audience and then determine—either by brainstorming or, better yet, researching—what their goals truly are. Be honest. Does your site provide a compelling reason for them to visit?
3. Does it have the right content?
Auditing and maintaining website content can challenge organizations of all sizes, so you’ll need a plan that your organization can reasonably keep up with. Do you have a strategy for updating your website content to ensure that it remains relevant and useful?
4. Does the graphic design say what you want it to say?
Graphic design, along with the images you use, is critical to conveying your organization’s brand—the key attributes you want people to associate with you, like scholarly, whimsical, or friendly. A good design helps make your site easy to use and conveys these attributes. Does yours?
5. Is it accessible to all?
Can everyone use your site, including visually impaired and deaf users as well as those who have difficulty using keyboards, slow download speeds, or are in other less than typical circumstances? This isn’t just best practice—sometimes it’s the law. But it’s also an equity issue. Some people shouldn’t be more able to use your site than others.
6. Does it perform well on mobile?
Unless you have a specific reason to believe your audience is using your site almost entirely from an office, assume that the vast majority of casual visitors are using phones. Therefore, if it isn’t easy for your visitors to read articles, watch your videos, or sign up on that device, they probably won't do those things at all.
7. Does it integrate with your email and social media?
Hopefully, you have a strategy to define how your communications channels work together. A website often acts as a hub, providing more information to those who click on a social media link or email and encouraging visitors to sign up for updates on these other channels.
8. Are there clear user pathways to achieve common goals?
With your audience goals defined, it's very useful to walk the pathway that they would use to achieve them on your site one by one. Is it obvious where they should click on each page?
9. Are you getting as much search engine traffic as you'd like?
Consciously using the keywords for which you'd like to be found and ensuring your site architecture is search engine friendly can help.
10. Is your site on a modern Content Management System (CMS) that allows you to easily update content?
There’s no one “right” CMS, and moving from one to another is a pain, but if your staff is struggling to meet your goals or update your content, it might be time for a change.
Do you feel like you have a good handle on all of these questions? Then you’re in great shape. Otherwise, you’re in good company—but don’t worry, we’re here to help.
Join our five-part Website Toolkit course Thursdays from 12-1:30 PM Eastern, starting March 31 and we’ll show you the site audit process in detail, with worksheets to help you apply it to your own site. We’ve also devoted an entire session to prioritizing updates and making a plan with the information you’ve learned.