How to turn your audit findings into a plan of action and prioritise what to do first.
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Turning observations into recommendations
Your ‘keep, improve, delete, archive’ column from your audit spreadsheet and your report are a great place to start. They will help you come up with a list of recommendations that you’d like to make.
Look through the things you’ve noticed in your report. For each point or group of points you’re making, you should have a recommendation. You can also look at your ‘keep, improve, delete, archive’ column from your audit spreadsheet and work through that in a similar way.
You’re probably not going to be looking to make a recommendation for every single page. That’s going to be too granular and hard to manage for all but the smallest websites. Plus, your audit spreadsheet acts as a list of all those granular changes that need to be made. Instead, focus on bigger recommendations that affect whole groups of pages, or individual pages that are very important.
Sometimes you’ll know exactly what you want to change. In those instances, describe the change you want to make, gather your evidence, and identify who you need to speak to in order to make it happen, or at least get the ball rolling.
Sometimes you won’t know what the answer is. In those instances, sum up the issue, gather your evidence, then come up with a question you need to find an answer to in order to move on. Work out who the stakeholders are and what you need to do as a first step.
Once you’ve listed all your recommendations you should prioritise them. You can do this on your own, but this is an exercise that works really well in a group too. It can be a great way to engage your stakeholders after you’ve shared your report.
There are many different ways you could prioritise your recommendations. If you have an established method, use that. If not, you could try the ‘How, wow, now’ approach. With this approach you consider two aspects of your recommendation:
- Is it likely to be high effort or low effort?
- Is it likely to have a high impact or low impact? Alternatively, is it high risk or low risk if you leave it as it is?
‘Wow’ recommendations are low effort, but have a high impact or protect you from high risk. For example:
- Fix one specific thing on one specific high-traffic, low-conversion page
- Update an essential piece of content that has a critical error
- Improve key content that you know is having a negative impact on your users
‘Now’ recommendations are quick wins. They are low effort and medium impact. For example:
- Add missing title tags and meta descriptions
- Add missing calls to action
- Add missing alt text (Jen Penaluna has a great hack to speed this up)
‘How’ recommendations are ones that have a high impact, but they’re high effort or you’re not sure how to make them happen. These might be bigger projects you need to tackle, for example:
- Iterating your navigation, IA or taxonomy
- Rethinking the content design for a whole content type or section of the site
- Improving your voice and tone across the whole site
‘Oww’ recommendations are ones that are high effort and high impact. I’d suggest that there’s probably not much point tackling them until everything else on your list is done (if at all).