The importance of the website design audit process

February 5, 2024
9 minute read
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Your website visuals are the first and strongest pillar for building an online reputation.

Studies reveal that 3 in 4 customers judge your company's credibility based on your website. Given these numbers, assessing your website regularly and enhancing your audience's user experience is important.

How can you ensure your site's UX is optimal for all visitors?

You can do so with a website design audit. It helps you track the health of your website so you can improve its performance. It will help you bridge gaps affecting your user experience, likely affecting your conversion rates negatively.

In this blog, we are covering the importance of this type of audit compared to others.

Key takeaways

  • Website audit defined
  • Types of audits
  • Why design analysis should be your focus
  • A case study comparison
  • The benefits of a website design research

What is a website audit?  

What is a website audit?

An audit is a thorough examination of your platform's performance and design. It will help you check its functionality, security, and user experience from all angles.

It helps:

  • Evaluate parameters responsible for search rankings
  • Give you in-depth information about your website
  • Identify website performance issues
  • Optimize your website
  • Increase user engagement
  • Lead to more website traffic

Now we understand what a website audit is, it's important to understand there are many types. We are outlining them below.

There are different types of website audits.

Each website is unique and presents varying challenges for owners. As such, there are multiple types of website audits.

SEO audit to help search engine ranking

A search engine optimization (SEO) audit analyzes how your website appears on search engines. You will then fix issues with your website so search engines can index it better. During an SEO audit, you will analyze:

  • Keywords
  • Link profiles
  • Traffic behavior
  • Goal conversions
  • Metadata

You will use these parameters to understand how your website is performing holistically. They will help you identify if your site has broken links, which could be leading to a high bounce rate or gaps in your website from a search engine's perspective. SEO is essential, so these audit results will help you see what your website must have for online success.

SEO audit to help search engine ranking

Content audit to audit your website voice

Content on your full website will be reviewed during an SEO audit, but the focus is on keywords more than the content itself. A content audit includes reviewing your voice to ensure it resonates with your target audience. You will also identify content that is driving conversions so you can create more similar content. The website content audit directs you to create a website content plan your customers will enjoy.

Technical Audit to improve online business performance

Understanding SEO algorithms and creating outstanding content will still result in a website that doesn't appear in search engines if you have a technical issue. So, a technical audit examines broken internal links and redirects, inconsistent sitemaps, and other functions that keep your website working. Ideally, these should include important factors like website speed and be conducted during web development.

A site audit for designs and visuals

A design audit involves checking your site's design is visually appealing to clients and potential customers. When your website looks nice, people want to spend more time on it. So, you will determine if your content, structure, and color palette appeal to your users. When used correctly, these combinations will leave a lasting impact on your users, so you should not overlook them. This website audit type helps your brand's voice stay consistent visually with your image. It's one of the reasons why you need design research - it creates coherence.

Conduct competitive website audits to stay informed

The last type of audit is one you conduct on your competition's website. You must know what your competitors are doing if you want your website to compete. And by auditing competitors, you can better tailor your business strategy to outperform them.

The importance of design research

The internet connects us in ways we never thought possible before the 21st century. Your website brings people to your business as you sleep, helps them purchase your products around the clock, and helps them decide if your business is right for them.

Good designs will increase your brand's perception and ability to deliver on promises. It will make people want to work with you, and you will increase revenue and customer retention.

Now, the concept of design thinking has become crucial, and it's the principal reason we argue a design analysis should be the central focus of your business.

What is design thinking?

Design thinking is a problem-solving approach that prioritizes the needs of your users. You aren't increasing aesthetics but rather holistically approaching your business through the exes and experiences of your users. You will focus on how every element affects your user's journey.

In short, design thinking incorporates aspects of all five types of website audits mentioned above.

It will address an SEO audit by ensuring customers find your content with the keywords they seek. Next, you will make sure when they click on your website, they are served with the content and visuals they expect to see.

How does it help with the content audit? Well, your brand has a voice, and it's not purely the words you write on your web pages. Visuals play a role in helping your users understand how your business communicates and speaks to them. If your visuals seem childish, but your tone of voice is very professional, it could send mixed signals to users. Design research will allow you to verify your visuals align with your words.

You're mistaken if you think it doesn't address issues you can uncover during a technical audit. Design thinking will help you verify that your website has no technical issues. The basis of design thinking is your customers and their experiences. When you adopt design thinking, your website will be technically error-free because you solve issues your customers will encounter.

Every aspect of your website - layout to content, usability to accessibility - should align with your business goals and values. Good design is more than making things look pretty. It's about creating a cohesive, engaging, and effective online presence that resonates with your target audience.

Let's explore the importance of visual web analysis in more detail.

Why you should conduct website audits focused on design

With its user-centric approach, a comprehensive design research plan can effectively integrate and, in many ways, almost replace these separate audits.

Its holistic view addresses the core aspects of these traditional audits while placing the user's experience at the forefront.

Integrating SEO within the Design Framework

SEO isn't just about keywords and backlinks. At its core, it serves to aid in delivering a user-friendly experience.

A design analysis evaluates how your design elements impact your site's search engine visibility.

For instance:

Navigation and Structure: A well-designed, intuitive site structure enhances crawlability, impacting SEO positively.

Mobile Responsiveness: With mobile-first indexing, the focus on responsive design aligns perfectly with SEO best practices.

Loading Speed: Design elements influence page loading times, a crucial factor in SEO rankings.

By assessing these aspects, you can see this analysis indirectly but effectively enhances SEO. It does so by ensuring the site is optimized not just for search engines but also for the users who navigate it.

Technical Audit through the Lens of User Experience

Technical Audit through the Lens of User Experience

A technical audit typically focuses on the site's backend aspects like:

  • Site speed
  • Security
  • Technology stack

However, these technical elements are deeply intertwined with user experience, a primary focus of design analysis.

Take, for instance, the following aspects and their overlap with a technical audit.

Site Speed: Design analysis evaluates how visual elements affect loading times, improving technical performance.

Accessibility: Ensuring your website is accessible to all users, including those with disabilities, is a technical and design necessity.

Security Features: User trust is paramount and can help ensure that design elements do not compromise website security.

Do you see how this audit will help you improve your website in all areas?

A technical audit typically focuses on the site's backend aspects

Content Audits Aligned with User-Centric Design

Content is king, but context is queen. A design analysis examines how content is presented and consumed, ensuring it aligns with user needs and behaviors.

For example:

Content Layout and Readability: Assessing typography, spacing, and contrast to ensure content is easily digestible.

Visual Content Integration: Evaluating how images, videos, and graphics complement and enhance the textual content.

Content Hierarchy and Flow: Ensuring the most important information is intuitive and user-friendly.

Five reasons to conduct a website audit for design

Assessing your designs can be a strategic move for your business. Understanding the value of this can be a game-changer for your online presence. While all types of audits play a role in website optimization, a design analysis is unique.  

Let's draw inspiration from a real-world example - Oral B's use of Design Thinking.

Need a website audit? Let's compare it to Oral-B's design thinking business strategy.

Oral-B's successful redesign of its electric toothbrush using Design Thinking provides a clear blueprint that can be paralleled in the context of design research.

Let's draw direct comparisons between the steps taken by Oral B and how these can be mirrored by design analysis.

Understanding User Needs vs. Clarifying Website User Goals

Oral-B's approach to redesigning its electric toothbrush is a great example of user-focused innovation. They began with a fundamental understanding that users were looking for practical improvements rather than an array of additional features.

This critical insight was garnered not through assumptions but by understanding users' habits, routines, and concerns. By emphasizing the real-life context in which their product was used, Oral B could identify and prioritize enhancements that resonated with their users. They avoided unnecessary complications that could detract from the user experience.

A similar strategy is necessary in website design when conducting a design analysis. The process begins with a concerted effort to gather comprehensive insights into what the website's visitors genuinely need and want. This investigative phase often involves a combination of user surveys, behavior analytics, and usability testing.

Such thorough research is about uncovering users' actual pain points and preferences instead of relying on assumptions about desired features or content. By adopting this user-centric approach, the audit can identify areas for improvement and opportunities to create a more intuitive, engaging, and effective user experience.

The methodology ensures that the website evolves in a direction that aligns with its audience's needs and expectations.

Simplification Over Addition vs. Streamlining Website Features

Rather than complicating its product with complex features, Oral B streamlined the user experience. This simplification was manifested in practical improvements, such as making the toothbrush easier to charge and simplifying the ordering of replacement heads.

These enhancements made the product more intuitive and user-friendly, addressing their customers' everyday convenience and needs. It demonstrates how understanding and simplifying user interactions can lead to more effective and appreciated product features.

When applying this philosophy to website design research, the focus shifts to streamlining the user journey on the website. The goal is to eliminate unnecessary complexity hindering the user experience.

Effective design research looks into simplifying site navigation, improving page load times, and optimizing key user actions like purchasing or contacting support. By reducing friction and making the website more intuitive, ensuring that it serves its users as efficiently and satisfyingly as possible.

It mirrors the approach taken by Oral B in their product design. The strategy enhances user satisfaction and aligns your website more closely with the goals and needs of its visitors. The result is a more successful online presence.

Aligning Product with User Lifestyle vs. Making the Website Reflect User Preferences

Aligning Product with User Lifestyle vs. Making the Website Reflect User Preferences

Oral B aligned their product enhancements with the lifestyle of their users – travel-friendly charging and seamless replacement ordering.

A design analysis should aim to align the website's design and functionality with the lifestyle and preferences of your target audience. For instance, a great mobile experience would be a priority if the website is for a mobile-savvy audience.

Feedback-Driven Development vs. User-Centric Website Updates

Oral-B's electric toothbrush redesign was heavily influenced by user feedback, leading to solutions addressing user concerns.

Similarly, the audit process should incorporate user feedback to refine and improve your website continuously.

This might involve:

  • A/B testing
  • Analyzing user feedback on new features
  • Making iterative improvements

All of which should be based on what users find helpful or engaging.

Why is a web design audit important?

These are not just a maintenance task. They are a strategic investment in the future of your business.

Regularly conducting these audits ensures that your website remains an effective, engaging, and competitive tool for achieving your business goals.

In the fast-paced digital world, staying static is not an option. Embrace the ongoing process of web design research to keep your website, and consequently your business, thriving and relevant.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the objectives of a website audit?

Website audits are conducted to identify areas of improvement for better page performance and user experience. An audit will analyze your website structure, SEO, speed, and technical issues to help you determine where changes need to be made to maximize traffic and reach your goals.

How can design research help improve user experience?

Design research can help pinpoint areas of improvement for website layout, navigation, and visual appeal, which boosts the user experience.

What are some common mistakes to avoid?

Common mistakes include looking at what is visually pleasing without considering your website from a user's perspective.

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