Doing a site audit is a great opportunity for your organizations to clean up, clean out and document your site and domain infrastructure. Here are 5 great reasons why you should do this on a regular basis. (at least twice a year)
Remove unused code, features and tracking scripts
With such a focus on site speed, slimming down unnecessary code and features should be a no brainer, but it is not done often and thoroughly enough. Site audits should not be used as bug fixes or feature updates, but rather as a time to cut out as much unnecessary code as possible. Year after year of features, styles and scripts can create layers of cruft that can be hard to get rid of. Taking the time to cut out unnecessary code can yield bigger dividends that most site rebuilds.
Tracking scripts are a particular problem. Sometimes people forget they are there and have long since stopped looking at the analytics they provide. Many times a subscription to a plan runs out or a person responsible moves to a different department or leaves the company. You should look at every external dependency that your site asks for with a stern eye.
Audit users and prune access
Pruning user and access is another overlooked part of site audits. If you don’t have a SSO (Single Sign on) setup with your site or infrastructure users can quickly pile up. Taking the time to get rid of users and remove unneeded administrative roles, can mitigate what could become a security threat.
Just because everyone CAN have an account doesn’t mean they SHOULD have an account. In higher user environments, turnover for people with access can quickly cause headaches if it is not pruned effectively. Allow the minimal number of users with administrator access and make sure security logging is enabled. Be sure to enforce regular password change procedures and enable two factor authentication for everyone.
You usually learn how up-to-date your documentation is when a new person is brought on board. When someone needs to know how a specific part of the site or infrastructure works and there is out-of-date or no documentation to support the request, it can become an all day event just to track down the information.
Having build, site scripts, and commands as close to the source as possible is a good rule of thumb but also having site documentation for people who are not developers but need to use and understand the site and how it works is equally important.
You should have a readme markdown file in the root of the site that is not accessible to the public. In here, store all the instructions for helping new developers get familiar with the site, its infrastructure, its commands and build processes.
In a separate document or wiki keep a larger repository of information regarding the overall infrastructure, responsible parties, templates, access, RCAs and team members who may own certain information elements. Github wiki and projects are perfect examples, but these need to be in an area where people who may not have Github access can get a hold of them. In this case a Google Drive folder or Atlassian Confluence might work better for your organization.
Once you have pruned your tracking analytics to the right set of tools, you should now take a good look at what and how your analytics is tracking. Are your page views accurate? Are your clicks, conversions, and event tracking giving you the information that you need? What are your site’s search terms and 404 pages telling you about your site or your users?
There will always be requests for analytics information that you didn’t know you needed until they come up, but having core metrics and funnels that matter most to your organization well documented and tested can help you understand what is, and what is not working for you.
Design guidelines and standards
Your organization has no doubt spent significant resources on your brand and a site audit is a great opportunity to make sure that your site is adhering to them.
Your site should have a private page where you can document your brand and site design guidelines as well as individual components and widgets that make up the site. As new components and variations are made they can be added to the page so that future pages and designs can be as easy as picking a set of sections, colors, components and variations and assembling a new page. This cuts down on time-to-build as well as creating consistency across your site.