When it comes to website redesign, some business owners make the unfortunate mistake of focusing their efforts on updating visuals and functionality on a basic level only, relying merely on instinct and quick glances at competitor sites for inspiration.
Making changes with minimal planning is fine to a point – but by incorporating the various aspects of Website Analysis into your preparations, you could really take your eCommerce prowess to the next level, resulting in increased traffic and sales.
The Importance of Website Analysis
Before we delve into this topic, do keep in mind that, if you require assistance with redesigning your site, many web hosts provide website analysis consultations (typically free), along with expert designer services.
Anyway, without further ado, here are five key aspects of website analysis to become familiar with prior to redesigning your website:
1. Website Analysis: The Basics
Website analysis essentially refers to the practice of examining a website in a thorough, deliberate way, for the purpose of optimizing its performance and potential. But in order to reap the full benefits of website analysis, you’ll firstly need a clearly defined goal in mind.
Sure, you’re overarching goal will always be to increase traffic and sales – but what is it that your website needs right now, specifically? Are you trying to build your mailing list signups? Do you want greater exposure for your blog? Is there an important new product, service or page that isn’t currently getting enough views?
Before proceeding, ensure that you have a clear understanding of what your goals are – this will give you a sense of direction, making the whole process of redesign preparation easier, saving time and energy along the way.
While there are several website elements for you to examine, what you’re essentially focusing on, in the simplest terms, is the following:
- Keyword & Copy Analysis: The practise of exploring how best to communicate and engage with visitors through considered language, and become more discoverable in search queries.
- Usability & Functionality Analysis: The practise of exploring how best to structure and design your website in order to adequately satisfy the unique needs of your customers.
2. Website Analysis: SEO & Keywords
Search engines are capable of driving a ton of targeted traffic in your direction, but in order for your business website to be most discoverable, you’ll have to firstly spend some time scrutinizing the various pages of your site – with SEO improvement in mind.
Remember, website analysis is all about…well, analysis. So don’t start making any changes to your content just yet; now is the time to get a firm grasp of what’s already there by taking a look at headers, descriptions, blog articles, categories, menus, tags and meta copy, etc.
Once observed, you can begin to form a picture of how you’re going to make those SEO improvements. Do bear in mind, however, that high-scoring, search engine-friendly content isn’t just about keywords – if copy isn’t informative, relevant and compelling, both search engines and your actual audience will likely notice.
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3. Website Analysis: Audience & Language
Everything you do and how you do it should generally centre round the needs of your target audience. A given, sure. But while you may understand the kind of products they’re interested in buying, do you also have a good understanding of the kind of people they are?
We’re talking about demographics. So, how old are your visitors? What countries/regions are they from? And what language do they speak? Or, more specifically, how do they USE language? What type of words and vocabulary do they put into practise the most?
By investigating how your visitors think and interact, you can better gauge how they use the web to track down products. And if you can understand this, you can rework the language style and keyword choices for your website, maximizing SEO potential, and therefore target audience reach via search engines.
There are a few different ways to achieve this, but perhaps the most straightforward and accessible is by examining customer product reviews (left on competitor sites/your own), or forums where your target audience regularly hangs out to discuss products and key topics relating to your area of business.
Another great way to place yourself in visitors’ shoes and optimize the performance of content is to take advantage of nifty tools such as Google Trends, which enables you to compare the performance of certain keywords. Remember, if your competition is fierce, it could pay off to target less popular search queries.
4. Website Analysis: Usability & Functionality
Analysing the usability of your website involves taking a discerning look at how efficiently it actually works; or more specifically, how easy it is to use, how well its tools and features function, and whether there are any problematic points of friction that require attention.
The aim, of course, is to create a smooth, flowing environment where visitors can accomplish everything they came for in a short space of time, with minimal fuss – and certainly no glaring issues that could send them bouncing in the direction of competitors.
Remember, when a new visitor arrives, they will be making conscious and unconscious micro judgements about their experience in an effort to get a ‘feel’ for your brand. So then, it goes without saying that it’s incredibly important to really nail usability.
When it comes to redesigning a site with a nice, gentle learning curve, you will need to consider navigation, layout, and overall clarity, focusing on menus, hyperlinks and call-to-action buttons, etc. There is another crucial element to always be mindful of, too: multi-device and multi-browser compatibility/usability.
Unfortunately, whether you like it or not, your website is going to look and function differently, depending on the device and browser being used to access it. So, during the hands-on redesign stage, ensure that you regularly preview your site using a variety of device/browser combinations in order to avoid unnecessary usability issues.
Finally, since users have high expectations when it comes to page-loading speeds, it’s worth gaining insight into how fast your site is operating; you can achieve this by using Speed Test tools, of which there are many available. If pages are loading at lacklustre rates, you may need to consider upgrading your web hosting plan.
5. Website Analysis: User Feedback
Once you’ve applied all changes to your website, making it as search engine and user-friendly as possible, try not to put your feet up just yet – because it’s time to carry out some critical road testing. Call upon your fellow man, be it friends, family or colleagues, to put your site to the test, playing the role of a new, unfamiliar visitor.
Remember, while you may feel perfectly satisfied with your website’s usability and design, the opinions of your ‘guinea pig’ peers are actually of tremendous importance – for the simple reason that these people lack intimacy with the project.
The key to receiving detailed and relevant feedback is to not be vague about how you want people to test your website; instead, come up with a list of several different tasks for them to complete. You could, for instance, ask for the following:
- Feedback on usability regarding product browsing, shopping cart management, and checking out (one way or another, you will need to ensure orders can be placed effortlessly)
- Feedback on navigating/finding the most important parts of your website, including product/feature pages, and call-to-action buttons
- Feedback on signing up for newsletters and contacting customer support
- Feedback on website design visuals and branding (style, colour palettes, etc)
- Feedback on website copy (grammar, spelling, sentence structure, engagement quality)
- Feedback on anything else your testers may wish to add (encourage brutal honesty – you’ll thank them for it later!)
While it probably won’t be possible in all instances, being there in person with at least some of your testers can prove highly beneficial. By observing real-time user interactions, you’ll be set to gain better overall feedback (versus that of feedback via email/phone call).
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