State of the Website Review: 10 steps for an annual website review
Updated April 26, 2018
We all recognize the State of the Union Address as an annual presentation reporting on the condition of the nation, as well as outlining the legislative agenda for the coming year. The president reports on the current status, but also recommends measures believed to be both necessary and expedient. While you’re brimming with new-year optimism and enthusiasm, it’s an deal time to conduct a thoughtful State of the Website Review — but you can identify your own necessary and expedient measures ANY time of the year.
The important thing is to do it.
There’s no requirement to implement many changes simultaneously and immediately, but why not start small by taking stock, and prioritizing the actions you’ll plan to take moving forward?
10 steps to conduct a website review
These are the steps you’ll want to take to conduct a thorough website review:
Start with a deep-dive content review.
Re-calibrate your audience.
Engage in focused competitive recon.
Ponder a glamour makeover.
Tackle cross-browser and device testing.
Keep up with new hosting options.
Scout out security improvements.
Evaluate the need for a management shake-up.
Sync up expirations.
Ready to begin?
1. Start with a deep-dive content review
Begin your website review with a deep-dive into its content. Review content topics such as contact information, staff, products, services, news, events, resources and recognition. Take immediate action on easy-to-fix items, and create a list of needed updates that can be tackled over time.
Which items need to be updated?
- Contact information: Location, phone, fax, email, hours of operation
- Staff: List of employees, bios, CVs, photos
- Products & services: Descriptions, photos, pricing, packages
- News & events: News coverage on other sites or print venues, announcements, past event photos or reviews, upcoming events
- Resources/links: Are all onsite and offsite links working? Any new links to add?
- Navigation/architecture: Is information still organized in the best possible way to reach your audience?
- Branding & graphics: Has your logo been changed or updated? Do newer marketing materials have a different look?
- Recognition: Are there new testimonials, reviews or awards to add?
- Social media: Have you added channels that are not yet linked on the site?
- Search results: Is your site ranking where we you want it to rank on search engines? Do you need to make content changes to improve performance?
- Other: Do you need to update calendar items, coupons and expiration dates, giveaways or contests?
Pro tip: Include your contact information on every page of your website.
2. Re-calibrate to your audience
In addition to the material offered, confirm that you’re still presenting it to the right audience.
- Who are you speaking to?
- What are their most pressing problems?
- How can you help solve those pain points?
- What immediate action do you want readers to take?
If you haven’t created a buyer persona for your ideal customer(s), here’s how to get started.
3. Engage in focused competitive recon
While you’re concentrating on your own work, your competitors are updating and improving their websites, causing you to fall behind in comparison. Part of a strong website review involves reviewing your competitors’ sites to see if they are covering topics that would also be relevant to your readers.
Have they added a blog or list of helpful resources? Are they offering discounts or coupons, special pricing, social media-driven discounts, or online sales?
What website improvements have your competitors made, that you might consider?
Complete these fields for each of your top competitors:
- Competitor website address: (fill in the blank)
- Features on this site that you could consider adding to your site: (fill in the blank)
- Content items on this site that you could consider including on your site: (fill in the blank)
It’s not urgent that you implement features to match every move your competitors make, but it’s worth noting their efforts to do something you’re not doing — and then considering whether those additions make sense for you as well.
4. Ponder a glamour makeover
If your website is still wearing the online equivalent of bell-bottomed jeans and a jacket with oversized shoulder pads, it might be time for a wardrobe adjustment.
As styles and standards change, you should adapt the look and feel of your website — even if the content is perfectly accurate.
For most websites, a redesign or refresh every few years is a reasonable expectation.
Is it time for a redesign?
- Is your home page highlighting the newest and most relevant information?
- Does the site still represent your current mission, purpose and values?
- Are there functions or features on your website that are no longer used?
- Are you still presenting outdated or discontinued products and services?
- Does your site design look old or dated?
- Does a large amount of content need to be added?
- Have you seen a significant drop in website traffic?
- Does the navigation still make sense?
- Is the site mobile-responsive?
- Do your competitors’ sites look better than yours?
- Has it been more than three years since the last redesign of your site?
- Is the copyright statement on your site out of date?
- Has your target audience changed?
- Has your unique selling proposition (USP) changed?
Visitors are increasingly knowledgeable and can recognize an outdated design style — and some might make purchasing or selection decisions based on that factor.
Pro tip: Use Google Analytics to measure a variety of website performance metrics.
5. Tackle cross-browser and device testing
Even well-designed and professionally programmed websites can experience issues when browsers are updated. It makes sense to test across all of the major browsers and device options — not just when the site was created, but at some regular time interval after that.
6. Keep up with new hosting options
Fortunately, hosting providers continually improve their product offerings. If your hosting will be up for renewal in the next six months, evaluate whether a newer package would better suit your needs. For example, you might have a WordPress website running well on the cPanel hosting, but if it’s coming up for renewal, it could be the perfect opportunity to upgrade to Managed WordPress.
Is it time for a platform or package change, or additional technology additions?
- Is it time to consider moving to a newer development platform, such as WordPress?
- Is there a newer hosting package that would better serve your needs?
New packages usually offer a discounted price on the initial purchase. So, moving to a newer package could be more cost-effective than renewing an older package.
7. Scout out security improvements
No one wants to think about hackers lurking in the shadows, but they’re around. As your conduct your website review, consider adding GoDaddy’s Website Security as a simple, affordable, one-stop security solution.
In addition, even if you think it’s not strictly required because you don’t sell anything on your website, it might be a worthwhile step to add an SSL.
Is it time to beef up your website security?
- Look into tools that offer automatic backups and malware scanning
- Add an SSL certificate
One indication of a website that is secured with an SSL is HTTPS instead of HTTP in the website’s URL. In case you missed Google’s announcement earlier this year, the search powerhouse will be marking all HTTP sites as “Not secure” beginning July 2018.
8. Evaluate the need for a management shake-up
Whether you’re managing your own site or have hired someone to take on that responsibility, needs and situations change over time. It might be time to consider hiring a pro. Or maybe the relationship with your current web pro is not serving you as well as it might, and it’s time to find a new resource. It’s also possible that a new resource or alternative has appeared through hiring, a business partnership, or even your own skill improvement.
Is it time to consider hiring a web pro?
- Does your site need more time and attention than you are able to provide?
- Does your site need more technical horsepower or knowledge than you are able to provide?
- Does someone on your team have the time and willingness to learn to do the job?
- Does your website seem unprofessional or below standards, when compared to your competitors?
Is your current web pro still meeting your needs?
- Is your web pro unresponsive to emails and phone calls?
- Is your web pro meeting time commitments?
- Does your web pro have the skills to do what you need?
- Has your web pro closed up shop, or announced a plan for retirement?
- Has your web pro changed the focus of his or her business or is now working only with certain client types or development platforms?
- Is your web pro providing the attention you deserve?
- Is your web pro making too many mistakes when implementing your requests?
- Is your web pro sticking to the terms of your written contract or verbal agreement?
- Are you happy with your web pro’s service charges?
- Is your web pro overwhelming you with technical information beyond your understanding and beyond what you need?
Is it time to consider changing web pro solutions?
- Do you now have a staff member who can manage your website?
- Have you engaged with a marketing agency that also offers web services?
- Have you identified a web management resource that is a better match for your needs?
9. Consolidate suppliers
Whenever practical, I encourage clients to maintain domain registration, hosting and email with just one vendor, in one account. It makes dealing with billing and tech support easier, you only need to remember one login, and you’re covered with one tech support number on speed dial. If your resources reside with multiple vendors, take stock and identify opportunities for consolidation.
Are there opportunities to upgrade or consolidate services?
Make note of the provider name and expiration date for each of these services:
- Website domain registration
- Website Security
From your list, identify services that are coming up for renewal soon, and that need evaluation for possible replacement.
Then, identify services to consider consolidating to one provider.
10. Sync up expirations
If you’re planning to renew one or more products or services, take a few extra minutes to contact tech support and sync up renewal dates. Extending your domain registration on a prorated basis to align with hosting renewal lets you deal with all renewals at the same time next year.
Don’t worry about taking action on any one item until you’ve reviewed the possibilities and outlined your own legislative agenda. Take your website review slow and steady, by getting organized with this to-do list. Then, go forth with confidence in your ongoing efforts, one improvement at a time.
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