Do you need a website review (and what the heck is that)?

When I first started Jamie’s Notebook in 2009, I offered social media services, writing services, and event planning services. I focused my writing services on brochures and blogs, which were variations on the types of writing that I was already comfortable doing. 

Over time, my services evolved, and now, I focus on websites, white papers, and news articles for my writing services, website audits/reviews for my consulting services, and I only do one-on-one training. 

Many other aspects of my business have changed, and some of those changes happened after just a year of being open for business. I’m sure I’m not alone in that my services and the way I conduct business have changed since opening my business. 

Can you imagine if the wording and even layout of my website were essentially the same as when I started? It would not be fair to me or my clients, potential or otherwise, because the reality of my business would not be represented. Also, if my website had not drastically changed over the years, I would not be able to attract the kind of clients that I want to work with now. 

This scenario is exactly why every business or nonprofit needs a website audit or review. The purpose of periodically having a review/audit is to make sure that your website reflects who you currently are as an organization, who your current target audience is, and what you want both to look like in the future. 

What is a website audit/review?

First, let’s talk about what a website review or audit actually is. I tend to use them interchangeably even though there is a slight difference for some people who also provide this service. 

A site review is taking a look at the site overall to see if it matches up with your target audience and your sales goals. It also takes a look at what information and potential features that need updating. I tend to do these for existing websites that need updating to match the site owner’s current and future goals. 

A site audit is what I would consider more strenuous and looks at how well the site functions, how well it is written, SEO, and overall perception. Generally, I do these for new websites, often in conjunction with a website design agency that wants a third set of eyes to catch things that they or the client may not have noticed. This service is especially helpful to agencies because not only do they get an outside user’s perspective, but I’m able to give the site a third set of eyes, so to speak. 

I will write a blog soon about why site agencies need independent site audits, but today, I’m focusing on site reviews. 

Who might need a site review

As I’ve already alluded to, I tend to have two distinct types of businesses that need a website audit or review. I’m going to break it down further. 

Business that is at its one-year anniversary mark

When we as a business or nonprofit start our respective organizations, we have an idea of what we want that to look like. Once we start running the business, however, we often realize “this part isn’t working” or “this part just isn’t for me.” When we start a business, we often want to serve all the people and do all the things but quickly discover that we need to niche down just a little bit. 

I once worked with a self-employed medical professional who realized after a year that they wanted to focus on a couple of specific types of therapies and patients, so I helped them figure out what needed to be changed on their existing site to better attract their fine-tuned target audience. 

Businesses going through changes

Your first website is probably pretty general, and once you realize who you want to focus on as a target audience and what services you might want to refine, it’s time to bring in a professional to help you with that messaging. Think it doesn’t make much difference as long as your target audience is included? Keep reading. 

Another example of this is when I worked with a design agency, and their client initially wanted to work with a specific aspect of the construction and real estate industries, such as landscaping and interior design. So, we wrote in a specific style that appealed to that type of audience. 

That client later decided to do a complete flip and wanted to work mostly with architects and higher-end construction companies that specialized in custom builds. So, more the technical side of the industry than the creative side. The language, tone, and even the way the client talked about their own business needed to change. 

Not attracting the right audience

Another example is a business that didn’t necessarily change but it needed to attract a broader audience. I was working with a website agency, and their client wanted to really focus on attracting a specific type of client that matched their new services. So, we did really well in matching the site changes to attract that new target audience. 

A few years later, that client was back and complained that they were only attracting the new audience and falling behind on their other services. So, we did a site review, and I worked with the agency to better balance the SEO and matching content to bring the client more balance. In this case, the client didn’t change their services, but they realized their messaging did not truly convey the breadth of their services. While the SEO did grow one side of the business, it all but ignored the other side. 

Let’s use a nonprofit organization I worked with a few years ago as another example. They worked with the homeless population, and their website was geared towards that audience and not as much towards donors and those who might be helping that population. They realized that the latter two audiences are more likely to be looking at their website so they could either donate or find help for someone in need.

 While they obviously still wanted to show compassion and provide information to those who find themselves unhoused, that was not the primary audience using the site. So, we changed up the information and how we addressed the people who were reading the site. It still had valuable information for those seeking help for themselves, but it was geared more toward those who were researching information on someone else’s behalf. 

Your website is incomplete

This last one is less of a review and more of a plan, but that’s another related website consulting service that I provide. A few years ago, a company wanted a website review but there was so little on their existing website I ended up creating them a website plan that outlined what pages they needed, what kind of pictures they needed to get, and other information they needed for them to build their own site. I know not everyone can afford to get a full, professional website when they first start out, but investing in professional consulting when you’re doing your own website will make your time investment more worthwhile. 

Need help? 

Are you an existing business or organization with a website? I would love to help you make sure that your site matches your sales goals and continues to be what you need to get the clients you need. I also offer a discount for clients who hire me to write their new website copy based on my site review recommendations. Let’s get your site working for you! 

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