Often before embarking on a website makeover or upgrade, you might be more clearly focused and able to explain what you want if you look at your website with fresh eyes, before rushing out to your website designer saying, “I need a new website” if you performed a content audit first! You will also give your website designer a better idea of your expectations for your upgrade and what is important for them to focus on.
This article will take you through some common website issues that you can immediately begin to focus on, and show you how to define your website makeover project and perform a content audit.
Why you need to do a content audit
A content audit has many benefits for your website makeover, often giving you a starting place if you are thinking about upgrading your website but don’t know where you should begin. The key reasons why you should sit down and produce a content audit are:
- it formulates a clear action plan
- helps you to clarify your thinking
- defines the direction you want to take your website upgrade/makeover on
- demonstrates clearly what’s wrong with your current website and what’s needed for your future website
- creates a clear road map for you and web designer/developer to work on together
- analyses the needs of your business online and your website customers, which then allows the web developer/designer to create an optimally designed website.
As you are reading through the below list, get a pen and start writing down the areas of your website that you think needs improving.
- List your goals and objectives for your website – what does the new website need to achieve? Capture and receive email addresses sign-ups for your newsletter? Gain new customers? Sell a product? etc.
- Do a gap analysis of your existing website – ask yourself what is missing. When you look at your website, what leaps out at you right away? Or more importantly, what doesn’t jump out at you? What should jump out immediately and grab your attention? What key message/s do you want your readers/customers to know in 15 seconds?
- Write down the potential call to actions and then the desired outcomes from your website traffic – If you know what you want your website to do, then you should know what you want your customers/visitors to your website to do as a response/result to reading your call-to-action. Should they sign up for your newsletter? Attend a webinar? Request a quote? Purchase your product? Read your latest blog post and leave a comment? Ring you requesting an appointment?
- Define the path you would like each persona to do once arriving on your website – as you have already identified and clarified your personas (i.e. the people who make up your target market e.g. demographic, lifestyle, gender, age etc), think about and write down what type of content you need to publish in order to engage with your audience and have them to respond to the desired action you wrote down in the previous step.
- List the functional requirements – you’ve defined your call-to-actions and what you want people to do when they arrive on your homepage, now you need to consider how they are going to do it. Do you need an online contact form? Do you need an e-commerce store to sell your products through your website? Does your website need a blog to give more of a detailed explanation of your products?
- Draw up a list of visual requirements – consider your personas thoughtfully, because you are appealing to different genders, education levels, and personality types. How they respond to images and visual stimuli will differ. Do you need a custom-built chart? Do you need a unique style and specific type of imagery that will appeal to a particular persona grouping? Or bigger buttons? How about a web form? Would a carousel appeal to your target market?
- Create a content inventory audit – this is the fun part, you are probably going through content that is several years old, when you look that far back you may feel a little uncomfortable. Go back through your entire website and list all the content pages (copy and paste the webpages as hyperlink addresses), files, images, and forms you want migrated to your new website into a document. Don’t forget to include web pages that match your SEO keyword list. You will want to keep some of these pages because this is how you are already getting web traffic visiting your site, and search engines ranking it for relevance, so don’t discard them all.
- Match specific content to specific personas – consider your persona visitor types, the products and/or services you offer, what stage they may be in the buying cycle when they visit your site. Now review the inventory you just went through and match it (pages, files, images etc) to your personas. Don’t worry, there will be a few gaps that will need to be filled. Just keep looking at your keyword list and keep this in mind as you go through your website content.
- Consider new content types – you have just identified gaps in your content you didn’t know you had, now write down those gaps so you can resolve them one at a time. Create a content strategy topic list to firm up those areas that are either missing or weak.
- Develop a website outline – now you can begin to create the sitemap. You were actually creating it as you went through the last few steps, but it is now starting to come together so you can see how the pages and actions fit together to form one cohesive website. Remember, you need to have one page per SEO-focused keyword and that page needs to align with your visitor personas. These pages also need to represent the information online customers need to see and the actions you want these visitors to take upon visiting your website.
Make sure your sitemap has a hierarchy which makes sense to your online customers and the search engines. Do not bury your content so deeply that your web visitors/customers need to click three times to read it. Keep as much content towards the top as possible, while still having a logical and sequential flow. Review your website regularly to understand what is wrong and how you can fix it. Don’t just leave it for the next time you want to upgrade your website.
- Confirm your call to actions – think about the words you write, are they compelling enough to make someone do the action you intend? Have you given website visitors enough substance to make them want to do something? Before you ask for their email address, make sure you’ve given your website visitors enough of a reason to want to give you their email in return.
- Spend time updating your social media accounts – if you haven’t updated or published anything on your social media accounts for a while (or haven’t even created a profile) decide on how much time you are going to commit to updating your social media account and what your followers are going to be interested in sharing or commenting on.
If you’re ready to take your website makeover to the next phase, take a look at the next article on questions you should discuss with your website designer/developer and hiring a professional.
Take a look at the other articles in the ‘Website Makeover – A Five Part Plan’ series:
Part 1: The Website Audit
Part 2: Setting Your Goals
Part 3: Choosing A Professional
Part 4: Defining The Scope
Part 5: After The Relaunch