Now you’ve done the groundwork, it’s time to do your audit.
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How to go about auditing
It’s best to work through your audit in a methodical way.
If you’re doing a sample audit, just work through your categories one by one. You can use the filters in the spreadsheet to home in on a specific content type and/or navigational section.
If you’re doing a full audit, or just auditing one section of a site, it will still probably be easier to work section by section. I find that focusing on a single area of the site at a time makes it easier to get a clear picture of what’s going on with the content rather than, say, working in order of pageviews.
- Filter or order your spreadsheet so you’re just looking at your first category/section.
- You can also order by pageviews, so you can focus on the pages with the most traffic first.
- Don’t just look at high-traffic pages though. Look for exceptions. If a page has much higher/lower traffic/engagement/conversion than its peers, you might learn something interesting by investigating why.
- Once you’ve audited a few pages, stop and reflect on how it’s going so far. Do the criteria feel right? Are the questions easy to answer? Are you spotting things that the criteria don’t record? This is the idea point to go back and add/delete criteria, or adjust your questions.
- Work page by page: Audit one page at a time, working along the row in your spreadsheet.
- Take notes: Use the notes column to keep notes as you go. This will make it so much easier for other people (or just future you) to understand your thought process later on.
- Start writing your report now: Keep a log of trends, issues, and examples as you go. Take screenshots to illustrate. This will save you so much time later on.
- Cheat: If you find a run of pages that are near identical, follow a very similar template, and are getting the same scores, metrics, and comments, just copy the scores down for all the rows and make a note of what you did.
- Keep, improve, delete, archive: You can do this as you go through if you have a strong feeling about a page. Or you can save it until you’ve reached the end of a section, and make decisions when you have a clearer picture. You might also want to add options for splitting or merging pages.
Auditing with users
If you can, audit a few pages with users. Show them the content, watch them read and interact with the page, and ask them questions about their experience.
It’s probably not practical to do this for every page, but it’s a great idea to do it with a few key pages. You’ll spot issues you would never spot otherwise.
Taking care of your wellbeing
Auditing is repetitive, detailed work, and it can be tough. That’s one of the reasons I created this workbook – to make the process more manageable. You can make it easier on yourself by:
- Enlisting help, like we talked about in module 3.
- Using two monitors. Being able to have the page and the audit spreadsheet open side by side will speed things up. It’s probably better for your eyes too, if the alternative is squashing everything onto one screen.
- Doing just a few hours each day. I can’t audit all day, it’s too repetitive.
- Choosing the best time for this kind of work for you. I like to audit in the afternoon – being a bit tired actually helps me settle into a repetitive task like this. Plus it’s a nice change of pace if I’ve been focusing on deep, ‘thinky’ work in the morning.
- Taking regular breaks. I use the Pomodoro method, where you work for 25 minutes then take 5 minutes off.
- Stretching and resting your eyes regularly.
- Using keyboard shortcuts. This can speed things up, and might be kinder to your body than gripping a mouse.
- Tracking your progress – it helps you stay motivated.
- Not getting bogged down in all the things you’re spotting that need to be fixed. You’re going to address it all later.