As a large financial investment, we service our cars every year to check for faults and ensure optimum performance. Why don’t businesses take the same approach with their websites?
Building a new website is costly and time-consuming. Once your site launches, focus should switch to ensuring you consistently get the best value from your investment. But all too often, we see a launch and leave approach which can quickly make an impressive website outdated, slow and more costly in the long term.
Why does your website need a website MOT?
Whether your website is a few months or a few years old, an annual website audit is recommended to ensure optimum performance from a functional and user standpoint. We call it a Website MOT. Your website is made up of many different parts which, when brought together, form a fully functioning site. These different parts such as code and integrations, content, user experience, site performance and SEO should be reviewed regularly. Doing so can provide valuable insights to improve site usability, engagement and conversions.
You are unlikely to interact with your own website in the way a user would. As such, issues with functionality and usability can easily be overlooked, leading to increased bounce rates and lost opportunities. Although it may seem like an additional cost, a website MOT can save you money in the long run, ensuring you get the maximum lifespan from your site before a redesign or rebuild is required. Even just adding an extra year or 18 months to your website can save you tens of thousands of pounds.
Your website is one of the most important assets of your business – even more important in these current circumstances. As companies have been forced to temporarily close their doors and consumers have been moved online, ensuring your website is in optimum condition has never been more critical.
What’s the value?
Other than providing your users with a consistent positive experience, an annual website MOT creates a host of benefits for a business. From general advice and updates to saving substantial money on future web projects:
- An up-to-date website: Ensure all elements of your website are up-to-date including licenses and security - two extremely important factors for both your business and your customers.
- Access to a certified team of developers: Experts at your fingertips who know the ins and outs of development and your site.
- Transparency from your agency: An ongoing relationship with your agency promotes constant transparency through effective communication.
- Saving money from a costly rebuild: Taking this iterative approach to maintenance prolongs the lifespan of your website and allows issues to be resolved faster, delaying a costly rebuild sooner than required.
What’s involved in our annual website MOT?
Technical site audit
The best performing websites are constantly being reviewed and updated. As such, it’s possible for things that weren’t a problem at launch to creep in, meaning a level of technical debt needs to be understood and untangled. As such, to really understand how a site is built, we undertake a site audit at the start of a project, this is especially important when we are taking on a website from an incumbent agency. This involves analysis and report writing completed by an experienced developer. Undertaking a full code audit will:
- Identify security flaws
- Identify major performance issues
- Identify areas where best practice has changed or become inconsistent
- Identify opportunities for future development and any threats posed to future developments
- Enable us to develop a plan for dealing with technical debt
When conducting a technical audit, we produce a recommendation document detailing our findings. This includes development estimates for any areas which need to be addressed and a priority order for undertaking them.
Front-end code audit
In line with the technical site audit, the front-end code audit involves analysis and reporting which would be completed by a dedicated UI developer.
Site performance could be the reason why you’re seeing an increase in bounce rates and a decrease in engagement and conversions. Performance is also partly responsible for creating an enjoyable user experience which will keep them returning again and again. Issues with performance can vary from creating small delays to rendering your site completely inaccessible or unresponsive to the user.
- 0.1 second: Limit for users feeling they are directly manipulating objects in the UI. For example, imagine a user selects or highlights a column on a website. This is the time limit the user expects to see feedback that it has been selected.
- 1 second: Limit for users feeling they are freely navigating the command space without having to wait for the computer. A delay of 0.2–1.0 seconds means the user is likely to notice the delay and feel the computer is working on the command, as opposed to having the command be a direct effect of the users' actions.
- 10 seconds: Limit for users keeping their attention on the task. Anything slower than 10 seconds needs a percent-done indicator as well as a clearly signposted way for the user to interrupt the operation.
This is further supported by case studies on user attention spans that highlight the need for speed. The BBC cited that for every additional second a page takes to load, 10 percent of users leave. Without a high level of performance, you have a low level of usability. As such, your users can’t interact meaningfully with your site to meet their needs, meaning a missed opportunity in meeting your goals.
Google Analytics audit
Google Analytics (GA) is often the first point of call to understand your traffic, which pages are being interacted with and identify areas for improvement indicated by high bounce rates. As the portal into how your website is performing, it's critical to ensure the data being reported on in GA is accurate. A GA audit is a detailed review of your account focusing on:
- Identifying potential misattribution in your traffic, goals and/or revenue
- Ensuring key data, including goals and revenue, is being correctly tracked from your website
- Discovering potential issues within GA settings
- Understanding how potential issues could be resolved to improve data accuracy
Once the audit has been completed, your agency will provide a list of recommendations and divide the actions up between themselves and your team. For example, a recommendation could include a submit button on a form which isn’t functioning, or you may be asking for too much personal information and users are clicking away before they complete the CTA action.
Content is an essential part of any website. It communicates directly with your audience regarding your business, services, expertise and experience. But, content can quickly become outdated.
GA plays an essential role in providing valuable insight into which pages are driving high engagement. Where do you have high bounce-rates and require page improvements? Where do you have content gaps, outdated links or content that needs updating? Undertaking a content audit and strategy review can help and includes:
- Content audit of a selection of content pages
- Content audit of a selection of three competitors
- Gap analysis and competitive opportunities identified
- Content strategy and recommendations including content pillars
- Roadmap and recommendations
- Ways of working recommendations
As you continue to develop your website, pain points and friction in your user experience can emerge. A review of your current UX and site responsiveness can create a short-term roadmap of iterative improvements that will make a measurable impact on your website. A UX audit allows us to uncover why page conversions are low, why bounce rates are high, how to enhance site usability, or any other issues you’re currently experiencing.
Performing a UX audit uses a variety of different methods and tools to analyse the current state of your site. Gaining these insights can be used to determine where informed recommendations can be made by analysing the following metrics:
- Business and user goals
- Traffic and engagement analytics
- Conversion data
- Sales data
- UX best practice
- Competitor analysis
Findings will highlight areas of the site that are working well and which are not, how your users are really acting and, in some cases, what data you have and what data you should be tracking. It also presents opportunities for actionable improvements based on data and evidence. Site responsiveness is also an essential part of a site audit, providing insights into how your website is accessed and used.
Do you know what device the majority of your users browse on? Since the release of the first smartphone, the use of mobile devices has increased year on year. It’s expected that during 2020, the global number of smartphone users will reach 2.87 billion, while 62 percent of users currently access the internet using their mobile phones.
These are just two stats that highlight the need for a positive mobile user experience. With the sheer amount of traffic driven by mobile, it’s imperative that all onsite content can be presented to your users in a way that doesn’t impede their browsing experience.
Every type of device your website is viewed on has a different set of rules for factors such as interactions, text and button sizes. These differences can affect a users browsing experience. If the text is too small, it will be harder to read. If the buttons are too small for a finger to accurately press, it will obstruct navigation. Our audit considers these factors, identifying the most common device users are accessing the site from, performing a usability review and UI review to understand where usability issues are occurring.
Part of maintaining a responsive website isn’t about a one size fits all approach. It’s about understanding the constraints between browser viewports and device controls, making small changes where needed to create a consistent browsing experience for all viewers. Considering this in line with your UX helps to make the best online experience possible for your users.
How can we help?
Your website MOT will produce a list of urgent and recommended changes to ensure your website continues to perform effectively. These changes can be worked through as part of your ongoing retainer plan over the coming months.
Our annual website MOT ensures that ownership is taken of your website helping to reduce unnecessary website waste, keep projects on track and keep on top of the latest updates in the industry. If you’re interested to find out more, speak to a member of the team.