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Why a website audit is money well spent

We regularly receive enquiries from potential clients wanting to re-design their website. Occasionally their reasons for the re-design are unclear. Sometimes a site goes out of fashion, but very often, the content has become chaotic or the business objectives for the site have changed.

A website audit will take a detailed look at your site, taking into account aspects such as the structure, accessibility, coding quality and content. Assessing the quality of these aspects and perhaps more importantly their relevance, will ensure your site, whether a full re-design or simply a refresh, will deliver your business far superior results.

Some of the results from the audit may be of little interest to you, such as the quality of the html code or level of technology in use on the site; but these factors impact heavily on the site’s overall performance. How about the accessibility, search engine friendliness and content? Is the site easy to use? Can people find your contact details? These are the things you're likely to be more interested in as they’re tangible for you as the business owner or marketer promoting the site.

Audits can be carried out at different levels too, so we’re not necessarily talking about stripping your site bare. You may feel your site is delivering results, but just needs a bit of a tidy up. Perhaps the content has run wild with pages and PDFs sharing conflicting information? Maybe your suppliers provide specifications and descriptions for your products? These may be ideal for you as the trade buyer, but what about the end user?

We often come across websites that have clearly been carefully considered during the initial design and development. However, the gloss can wear thin, and inconsistencies in the content can appear once the site launch becomes a distant memory. A content audit will bring back into line, and likely offer you search engine benefits as well.

Of course an audit isn’t free. However, if auditing your current site will help you define the strategy, structure and content of your new website, doesn't that make better sense than a stab in the dark? If you know and understand why your new site might be better off built in HTML5 or should take advantage of search engine friendly URLs, you can allocate your budget accordingly, and set a timetable to plan future enhancements. After all, a website supported by a good strategy will always have a to-do list.

But an audit's just another expense and will delay progress.…

I don't agree an audit will delay your progress. The more you know about your current site and its content, the more accurately you can define the scope of your project. This will actually save you money in the shorter term, and should make you money in the longer term. As designers, if we know how much content you have or what your images will show, it's much easier to design your site. The audit is simply a necessary part of the planning process.

Image credit: Flickr

Andrew profile

Andrew is the founder of A Digital and wants and believes that technology needs to be an enabler, making a positive impact on the way people live and work.