Mark Royko on January 23, 2014
Want to build a better website? Start with a great site audit.
We’re often approached by new clients with pre-existing web sites that, for one reason or another, aren’t returning much measurable value. Sometimes clients reach out because their existing site doesn’t perform well, sometimes it doesn’t convert leads into sales. Quite often it just doesn’t look modern, clean or professional.
At Duo, we almost always begin client relationships by performing a full site audit that provides a snapshot of the existing technology. We review code, run performance tests, review security and look at ways we can help build a better website. We then deliver a full report, and meet with our clients to review the results. This first step helps understand the inner workings of the web site, and provides a blueprint for future development.
We’ve done a lot of site audits lately, and while a good site audit reveals a lot about your site’s technology, a great site audits tells you about your users and processes, and reveals opportunities for growth in the future, things many companies just overlook.
Here’s five of the ways a Duo site audit can help:
Understand Your Users: These days, almost every web marketer understands that site analytics can provide vital information about a web site. The trouble is, raw analytics often provide so many details that administrators can’t tell what’s important and what’s not. And quite often, antiquated forms, calls to action or bad design prevent administrators from taking charge of their visitor interactions.
At Duo, part of the audit process is to review content architecture to help decide if the site’s content is easy to reach and beneficial for visitors. We’ll also review contact pages, calls to action, web forms and shopping carts to spot obvious ways to improve visitor interactions.
Increase Performance: If there’s one golden rule of the web, it’s that a slow website discourages visitors. One of the most important audit procedures is performance bench testing, where we provide technical reports on site speed -- and suggest ways to improve it.
Quite often, we find that simple changes to site architecture can provide tremendous performance gains. These issues can be hiding in plain site – from slow-loading external libraries to uncached database results. Sometimes, they are more elusive and involve changing server configurations or tuning the database. In any case, a review can lead the way to squeezing the most performance out of a dragging web site.
Streamline Workflow: ”Administrators are users.” That simple phrase is one of the most overlooked aspects of web design. It means that administrative functions should be designed with the same level of precision as when an anonymous user visits your site, so that whether it’s an intern, or a senior editor, basic content management is a snap.
One of the most interesting things about Drupal is that as a system, it allows developers unrivaled control over how administrators interact with a site. During a site audit, we’ll review how content is entered and report back on ways to make the administrator’s life easier, faster and more satisfying.
Feel More Secure: It goes without saying that all site audits should address code updates and security issues. But a true security audit involves much more. Surprisingly enough, the scariest security breaches are the ones that aren’t noticed. It’s vitally important that the audit dives deep into the site structure, reviews access logs, and looks for unusual activity from unexpected sources.
One of the scariest aspects of website security is that quite often site administrators aren’t even aware that their site has been hacked. Sometimes, the goal of hackers is to install files deep within the site that run in the background, slowing down your server and gobbling up valuable resources. A good site audit identifies these files, and anticipates where they could potentially infect your server.
Reveal Opportunities: The best site audit you will ever receive is the one that goes beyond providing a laundry list of technical specifications: It’s the one that truly understands the task at hand and offers options for making the best site possible. We’re committed to helping grow your business by providing a great online experience for both you and your visitors. To make that happen, we’ll suggest new ways to organize your content, improve the site’s look and feel, build better calls to action and quantify user experience.