The Conversation Starter

Contributed by Mitchell Vice

This is usually how the conversation goes:

Us: “Thank you for calling PPBH. How can we help you?”
Them: “We need someone to redesign our website.”
Us: “We can help you with that. Why do you think your website needs a redesign?”
Them: “Because we hate it.”
Us: “My, that is regrettable. What particularly do you hate about it?”
Them: “It doesn’t work.”
Us: “What about it doesn’t work?”

You can see where this is going.

Almost as common as the conversation above is this one:
Us: “Thank you for calling PPBH. How can we help you?”
Them: “We just had our website redesigned, but it’s still not working. We need someone to make our website work.”

There is no point in redesigning your website without clear expectations of the results the redesign will bring and a concise set of criteria necessary to reach these expectations. Before we even begin sketching wireframes and choosing colors, we perform a web audit to determine what the goals of the website should be and why it’s not achieving them.

You can search “web audit” and find a myriad of methodologies, metrics, checklists and guidelines. A couple that we’ve used as a resource for basing our own criteria can be found at USERFOCUS.COM and SEZMOZ.ORG.

A comprehensive web audit should focus on the following criteria:

• Audience interviews/surveys/focus groups
• Stakeholder interviews/surveys/focus groups

Web analytics/statistics
• Copy and language usage
• Navigational structures and methodologies
• User experience
• Response times
• Broken links

Standards Compliancy
Current compliance to standards
• Cross browser performance
• Adaptive technologies performance

Section 508 compliance
Web content accessibility

Information Architecture
• Use of taxonomy
• Meta tags
• Search engine ranking and optimization

• Visual design
• Branding guidelines
• Branding and design consistency

Business Process
Aligning web strategy to business strategy
• Online marketing/site promotion
• Competitive positioning

Whether you conduct your own web audit or hire a firm to perform it or you, do not suppose a new design, an “SEO Package”, more money for Pay-Per-Click advertising, or a social media campaign could solve all the problems you perceive your website to have. Without the precise data that a web audit provides, neither you nor the firm you hire will have the information necessary to make your expectations of a new website a reality.

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  • Justin 9 months ago Reply

    Very good insight. I can commiserate.


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