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When it comes to building and managing the content on websites, there are well-designed sites and then there are some that fall under the category of questionable or poor design. A site audit can be performed at any time to improve the appearance and functionality of a website. This audit should generally be performed by an objective party or someone who has the knowledge and experience to conduct an in-depth website audit. In either case, a site audit checklist can be followed to make sure that all areas of the website are evaluated correctly.
The first area of a site audit to be performed is determining who actually owns rights to the website and content in question. In most cases, a website will be designed by an independent website design company or by an individual acting on behalf of the entity for whom the website represents. Before changing any content, this ownership must be determined and permission must be obtained to make modifications, otherwise there could possibly be a breach of contract or a violation of international copyright laws.
A second step in the site audit process is to determine if there are any obvious layout or graphic design problems with the website. This can be best determined by a professional who has experience with website design or graphic design. In many cases, however, these issues will be apparent immediately by a panel of objective consumers who can be asked to review the website and rate it on several categories, including the visual appeal of the website and the ease of finding important information throughout the website.
A third aspect of the website audit, and perhaps one of the most critical of all the steps, is evaluating the actual written content on the website. Content and articles are very important when it comes to making the website searchable using search engines. If the content is not correct, has poor keywords, or is lacking enough written content, then the website itself is practically useless as far as attracting consumers or being found by search engines. Search engines rely upon well-written content, so this should be a priority as far as making corrections to the website. A seasoned content manager can easily perform a site audit which can improve this aspect of the website.
In addition to making sure the design, layout and content looks good on the website, another aspect of a website audit is in the usability of the website, or site operation. All buttons and URL redirect links should be operational with no error messages, often referred to as broken links. Consumers should be able to toggle back and forth between pages to find the information they need. There should also be some contact information on the website so that additional questions or concerns can be addressed.
When conducting a site audit, it’s vital to have at least two outside professionals look at it so that all of the above areas can be identified and corrected. This can provide a more in-depth audit that is accurate and objective, instead of trying to do it alone and not seeing the entire site as a whole. By conducting a formal site audit at least once every two to three years, the website should perform better and increase in rank so that it is easier to find by search engines and consumers.