A Comprehensive Guide to the Design Audit of Your Website
If you care about branding and the brand image, it’s essential to have a consistent brand identity. Since your website also a part of your brand, you need to ensure consistency in the visual design of your website as well.
A design audit will help you to figure out the inconsistencies in your branding so you can fix them and ensure that your website adheres to the brand guidelines.
Why You Need to Do a Design Audit for Your Website
Conducting design audit of your website (and other marketing materials) would be useful to ensure that there is no inconsistency in your branding efforts. This article from Forbes shows how important brand and design consistency is essential for a brand. Here are some reasons why you need to do this periodically.
1. Ensure Consistency in Visual Design
The inconsistency in your various visual branding elements can really impact your branding efforts adversely. These inconsistencies will work against your efforts to create a unique brand image among your target customers.
2. Identify the Design Mistakes
If you or the design team hasn’t spent much time in the actual design, chances are high for basic visual design mistakes on the websites. In responsive design, the designers don’t have the complete control over the design because the layout is flexible and it will be adjusted based on the viewport size. Still, there might be design mistakes that we can fix. A design audit also gives you an opportunity to figure out these mistakes and fix them.
3. Identity Outdated Trends That Needs to be Upgraded
Apart from that, a design audit will also help you to identify if there is any outdated trends or style in your design that needs to be upgraded. Remember, the design trends are rapidly changing and what is trendy today might be considered as stale after a few months from now. So, a design audit gives you an opportunity to identify them.
Simply put, if you want to build a strong brand, you need to have a professional and consistent brand identity. A design audit is an essential part of that.
How to Do a Design Audit
You need to follow a step-by-step process to conduct the design and create a report that contains the findings and recommendations.
The first step to conduct a design step is gathering all marketing resources that are currently public and to be released. It might include the following things for small companies.
- Different variations of logos
- Ads, posts, and banner in social media
- Flyers, business cards
The list would go on like the TV/Magazine/Newspaper ads, hoarding, and banners for bigger companies. You will need all these to compare and find out the inconsistencies.
Every brand would have a color scheme, and you may have one too. But these colors are often used in different ways and scales. In the audit, you need to look for consistency in the use of the colors.
For example, you might be using your brand color dominantly in most of your marketing materials. But it is used as a small accent color on the website.
Many companies use different types of font for their different materials. This inconsistency in the typography is against the basic branding principles. However, most companies don’t give much attention to it.
Different typefaces have a different personality, and it plays a crucial role in creating the brand image among the people. For example, you might have seen legal agencies and educational institutions use serif fonts because they stand for authority and credibility.
Your brand should also have a typeface, and you should use that consistently on all of your marketing design.
So, if you find any inconsistency in the font faces in your website and other promotional materials, you need to take a note of it.
As we said earlier, the design trends are changing rapidly. So, if you had a trendy design for the website when you built it, chances are the design trend is outdated now. However, if your website has a standard, classic or simple design style, it might not be a problem.
Some examples of the outdated trends in the web design are:
- The use of sidebars (it might be alright on the blog page)
- Stock photos: Stock photos are now considered as boring, so most websites now prefer illustrations. It’s more powerful than images.
- Long Text Content Blocks: Your website had long blocks of plaintext content for the sake of SEO, but now it’s not the case. There are different layout techniques to work around this.
- Flash elements
- Heavy design (too much design)
Figure Out Inconsistencies
1. Inconsistency in the use of logos
The variations of the logos to be used in different backgrounds are an exception. It makes sense to create logos in different colors for different backgrounds. Many large
2. Inconsistency in the typography
Every website needs to have consistent typography across the pages. The headings, subheading, paragraphs, and links, etc. need to have a consistent size, color, font face, and line space, etc.
Here is some more details that doesn’t need explanation.
- The Layout and Whitespace
- Use of colors
- Headers, footers, and sidebars
- Size, color, and shapes of various items like buttons, widgets, and other graphical elements.
After analyzing the design of the website and comparing it with other promotional and marketing materials, a detailed report can be prepared highlighting what is done right, what is wrong and the potential opportunities for improvements.
If the report contains details about why it’s good, why it’s wrong or why it needs improvement, it will help the company to make better decisions in the branding efforts in the future. Moreover, it will also help all stakeholders of the company to understand the situation.
Often, the higher level management won’t realize the importance of the design consistency. It’s the duty of the marketing team to convince the higher authority about the need for improving the brand identity to make the marketing campaigns more successful.
Therefore, you need to ask the designer who conducts the design audit to prepare a detailed report of the findings that can be presented to the top management.
Now you have all these details you need. The next stage addressing the issues you have found in the audit.
If there are only a few inconsistencies in the design, you can fix it immediately. For example, inconsistencies in the color or size of elements, font face, background image, pattern, use of the logo. These all are very small mistakes that the initial web designer might have overlooked during the development. This can be fixed easily, and it doesn’t take much time.
You can also fix the inconsistencies with the spacing between elements, layout style, design style, size of the different headings across various pages.
If there substantial issues with the design of your website, like the outdated trends or wrong design styles, you may need to do a redesign.
At this time, you should approach a good designer or agency with experience in branding. It may cost you high compared to the normal web design companies. However, the value you get from a professional and reputed web design agency will be much more if you are trying to grow your brand and build a strong brand.