Site audits and reviews

Site audit and review is a process which can be performed on an existing website as well as on a new website prior to deployment. The process of audit and review aims to provide the developer, client and designer with core information about the suitability of the website.

The audit and review process attempts to quantify or qualify the site using a range of metrics. The areas of interest are:

Overall impression, particularly from the home page

First impressions count so the impact of the home page is vital. If the visitor does not immediately know what your home page is about and the functions it offers they are unlikely to go beyond the home page. Key elements here are whether the page is visually appealing and whether it is obvious how to reach other key parts of your site.

Page content

Great care has to be taken to ensure that page content meets certain quality standards. Much of this can be addressed during the copywriting and proofreading phases. Textual content must be free from spelling and grammatical errors. The content must be kept up to date and it must be clear and informative. It should also be written to appeal to the target audience.

Information should be structured using clear mark up. This means that headings should be numbered and nested correctly and appropriate mark up used for different types of content, whether it is paragraphs, lists or tables.

Graphics and media

A clear distinction should be made between decorative and informative images. Images should be optimised for their use on the page by setting size and file format. File sizes should be monitored carefully to ensure quick download. A distinction should be made between photographic and illustrative images by using the most appropriate file format. Informative images should integrate well with the text and make use of appropriate alternative text. Other media should be incorporated in such a way as to minimise browser compatibility issues and to maintain conformance to mark up standards.

Usability and navigation

Clear, consistent and accessible techniques should be used for navigation. Where appropriate a breadcrumb trail and sitemap should be used. Page structure should be logical. A search function can be useful if implemented in an accessible way. Where possible pages should restrict the amount of vertical scrolling, and definitely minimise the effects of horizontal scrolling on low resolution screens.

The layout and positioning of content should be intuitive and the information architecture of the site should be evident from the navigation mechanism and page content.

A contact/email form, or at least an email link should be provided to elicit feedback.


As well as complying with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and Section 508 a site should provide mechanisms for viewing on a range of devices. Pages should be tested using graphical browsers, text browsers and screen readers. Where advanced media is used you should make sure that it can be controlled using a keyboard only.

Look and feel

Aesthetics are important in web page design. The designers input needs to be translated into appropriate use of typography, layout, composition and graphics. However, there are the restrictions imposed by the requirement to match the corporate look and feel and the marketing approach of the clients organisation. This quite often means trying to maintain consistency across sites as well as pages.

Technical issues

A wide range of technical issues need to be addressed. These range from client browser requirements such as screen size/resolution, browser compatibility and plug-ins through to quality assurance aspects such as presentation issues, programming and scripting errors, form errors, code accuracy, broken and missing links, missing images, script errors and missing attachments/downloads.

Issues such as web standards compliance and download speeds also belong in this category, but are also discussed in other sections.

Search Engine ratings

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is beyond the scope of this tutorial but the issues do need addressing in a full site audit and review. Issues such as the use of keywords, current visibility, link popularity, search engine friendliness and placement, persuasion techniques, meta data and avoidance of non-ethical techniques should be explored.

Visitor experience

As well as performing tests with typical users there are more sophisticated techniques such as eye tracking studies which can be performed. An analysis of visitor behaviour's clicking and browsing can reveal hot and cold spots in the site, as well a providing statistics on the efficiency of the site in generating business.

Hosting requirements

Hosting a website requires an understanding of the web server infrastructure and the underlying requirements of the website. Generic issues such as security, user traffic and statistics are important, but there is also a need to ensure appropriate resources, such as media hosting, download speeds and quality of service. Costs will also need to be ascertained from a web hosting provider review.


The responsiveness of the website will be determined partly by the end users internet connection speed, but on top of this there is the ability of the server to process requests. Performance will be a combination of all criteria including server internet connection speed, client internet connection speed, web page latency, database query processing speeds etc.


A task based analysis should be performed to ensure that users can fulfil their requirements of the site in an efficient, intuitive way. Part of this will require an inspection of each page to determine its role in the site.

Valid XHTML 1.0! | Valid CSS! | WCAG Approved AA
Page design by: John P Scott - Hosting with: Netcetera