How to Perform a Comprehensive Critique of Your Website
Jason Thomas has been helping launch and develop start ups for 10 years. Jason's passion is working with motivated entrepreneurs to validate and implement ideas that grow their business.
Jason is a husband, father, and homesteader in training. In his spare time he's generally outside working with his hands and getting dirty.
Every business should complete comprehensive critique of their own website at regular intervals. It’s always important to be sure your website is operating a peak performance, converting prospects to paying customers.
Many businesses create a website they love because they think it looks great, or tells the story they want to tell. The problem is that the story the site is telling may not be the story customers want to hear.
When a website doesn’t work for a customer, it slows down or even destroys conversion rates. If your website isn’t generating leads and nurturing them into customers, it isn’t doing the job it’s meant to do.
Websites are for Users, Not Businesses
A successful website isn’t one only the owner feels good about. It’s one that is effective in converting traffic to sales. Even if you love your website, with all its bells and whistles, it may not perform as well as your competition’s website.
Time and time again, websites tailored to optimize the user experience, even when considered ugly, are proven to outperform “pretty” sites in every category but looks. The best performing websites are designed with the user in mind, not the opinions of stakeholders.
When a business owner falls in love with their own website, they may actually be sacrificing revenue for the sake of the site’s appearance. That’s why all business owners need to step back and view the site as a potential customer seeing it for the first time. When objectivity proves impossible, running case studies with real customers, and paying for their opinion is invaluable. Only then will you know if your site preferences are costing you business by getting in the way of an effective user experience.
Do an SEO Audit
Step one should be to run your site through an SEO audit. Use tools, such as Ahrefs.com, to see if your content is still optimized for your chosen keywords. Pay special attention to titles, H1 headings, and the URLs of your pages and blog posts.
Also, take the time to closely examine the Meta Descriptions of every single page. While these are not directly impacting of search rankings, they do have an effect. The Meta Description is the preview text that shows in the search results. Having missing or badly chosen copy, means less people will be compelled to click on your link. In the long run, lower click-through rate (CTR) means your result will drift down the rankings.
These items are vital aspects for driving organic traffic and improving SEO performance. If you find that these items are missing, duplicated or not aligned with search strings and keywords, you need to make changes right away.
Do a Buyers' Journey Audit
Next, put yourself in the buyers’ shoes and pretend you have come to the site for the first time. Is the site design clean and welcoming or cluttered and confusing? Would you be able to find important information if you didn’t already know where it is?
The navigation should be clear and consistent.
You may find the very things you love about your site are turning customers away in frustration. It should be easy to find information about your company, product or service so the customer is carefully led through the information needed to make a decision to buy. In short, your website should optimize the buyer's journey from first-look, to purchase.
Do a Unique Value Proposition (UVP) Audit
Your unique value proposition is what sets you apart from your competition. It’s the statement that clearly communicates why a person should buy from you. Many studies conclude that people usually make up their mind about a website in under 3 seconds. This means, you have a very short window to convince the visitor they have found the solution to their problem.
The biggest, boldest headline at the top of your website should clearly communicate your UVP. It should be simple, clear, concise, and targeted to your buyer personas.
Simply saying, “we’re the best,” doesn’t cut it. For customer care businesses, claiming “better support,” doesn’t set you apart. Your competitors are making the same claim. Instead, if your support is personal, while your top competitors offer only automated support, your UVP could be, “Personal, Human Support.”
You need to help your prospects understand why they should want to do business with you. What is in it for them if they choose your product over all the other possibilities?
Read More: 25 Companies Who Nailed Their UVP
Do a Conversion Optimization Audit
Desperation scares people away, even on a website. If you’re asking someone to buy from the first moment they arrive on your site, you’re asking for rejection. Don’t be the guy who proposes immediately to every woman he’s introduced to. Let the relationship unfold at the pace the customer is comfortable with. Build trust, and then ask for deeper commitment.
Your website should offer value before asking for a return. Instead of having a big “buy now” button at the top of your site, offer them an educational eBook that shows them why buying from you would be a good choice. This shouldn’t be propaganda either; it should help them make the best decision. If they’re not a good fit for your company, your eBook should educate them enough to realize that.
Successful content marketing leads the prospect to want to know more about the topic at hand. For example, provide a few interesting tidbits or facts on the page before you ask for a name and email address to download your whitepaper or eBook.
Follow the Path to Website Success
Follow the path you’ve laid out on your website as though you were a prospect. Otherwise, you can ask current clients to walk through your website with you, or you can use a tool like UserTesting.com.
The insight gained from approaching your website like a prospect can be invaluable in helping to ensure that your site works hard to help convert leads, and nurture them into customers.