As the end of the year approaches, many entrepreneurs might feel the need to assess all aspects of their business, including the state of their website. But a web design audit involves much more than a spruce-up. A year-end review of your business website should be a thorough analysis of the look, feel and overall functionality of the site. It takes into account visual design, UX, and most important, whether your website still aligns with the identity and mission of your brand.

There are many ways to measure the state of your site, from whether it is current with the best SEO terms or technically up-to-date on the backend. Just as you would give an employee a year-end performance review, consider conducting an annual review for your website. Here’s a step-by-step guide for auditing the digital headquarters of your business.

Outline your website review goals

In many cases, your business website is likely the most centralized storytelling platform for your company. It can house your company identity, brand voice, founding story, and every single product or service offering in one place for the entire world to see. There can be many areas that need redesign, be it the graphics or the messaging.

When auditing your site, have a clear objective of what you want to achieve. Be clear on how much time, money and resources you can dedicate to this project. Are you looking to just update some online text or do you envision yourself hiring a web designer to completely revamp the site? Budget appropriately for any professionals or consultants you might need to hire, be it a web designer, e-commerce consultant or a copy editor.

Conduct a visual audit

Allocate an hour of time to simply sit down and review your website’s overall appearance. Go on a browsing-spree of your own site! Think about your web design and how its interface speaks volumes about your business. Browse your own site thoroughly to evaluate visuals, including colors, layout, graphics and other imagery. Do all the elements still accurately reflect your brand?

A company can evolve overtime, and it’s important to make sure your website still connects to your target audience, echoes to your company culture and conveys your unique value proposition. For example, are you isolating a large part of your audience by being too gender-centric? Does the lead homepage feature your bestselling product? Does the About Us page need a little more soul?

Conduct a UX audit

Looks are one thing, functionality is another. Is your website intuitive and easy to navigate? Test your website to ensure your web design is contributing to the best online user experience. Check for loading speed as well as whether the website works across different browsers and on mobile. Test the user flow, interactions, and responsiveness from different devices including desktops, tablets and cell phones.

Conduct a content audit

It’s time to play editor. Review each sentence and description on your website, from the tagline to the fine print. While a proofreader or copyeditor can help your website’s written text shine or pack a punch, it’s your job as the business owner to make sure all the content aligns with your organization’s mission and voice.

Equally important, ensure your website is up to date with all the keywords relevant to your product or service. Ensuring your SEO strategy is up to date will help your website gain more visibility and reach your target customer.

Follow the data

Is your website giving you the data and stats you need to assess online sales performance?For beginners, Google Analytics is a free and easy tool to help you gauge your website traffic, where it comes from, and which pages are performing best. Are there pages with certain designs that are resonating well with your audience? Is there a webpage that is getting zero love? If so, it might be time for a redesign.

Review latest design trends

Check out your competitors, the latest ventures, as well as brands you admire. Are there design trends that should be on your monitor? While you should be authentic and never play copycat, it’s great to be in-tune with what is trending, and draw inspiration from what can help propel your brand identity.  

Experience your website from the customer’s POV

Allocate a separate time to review your site from your customer’s perspective. Consider doing a test-purchase of a bestselling item from your website. From typing in the URL to landing on the homepage, and getting to the checkout page—was the e-commerce experience seamless and intuitive? Or, were there many glitches that made your website difficult to navigate? Does the look of the website seem consistent and engaging throughout the entire buying journey?

Get feedback

At the end of the day, it’s difficult to completely remove your bias as the business owner during a website review. Consider starting a conversation with your top customers or trusted associates to also give you feedback on your web designs and user experience.

A web design audit empowers business owners to have a thorough understanding of how a website performs and contributes to business growth. It identifies technical issues as well as whether certain areas are off-brand. Launching a managing a website in itself can be a tedious task, so having to revisit the though of redesigning can seem overwhelming. The key is to conduct a website at least annually so that your company site is always in top condition and positioning you for success.