The digital experience audit: Improving website performance, customer experience and governance

The platform that drives your website has a huge impact on the overall experience. We love working with Sitecore because it enables us to create exceptional digital experiences that support any aspect of the customer lifecycle. Sitecore-powered experiences can create awareness of your products and/or services, drive sales and empower your customers through authenticated self-serve tools.

Get the most out of Sitecore with a digital experience audit

If you’re using Sitecore, the platform is likely at the heart of your digital channel strategy. However, we often encounter organizations who don’t feel they’re getting the value they expect from their Sitecore investment. This is usually because they lack clarity around how their channels are performing. With mobile apps, social, email and in-store digital, the landscape is complex. This can impact:

  • Digital and web teams – They struggle to meet expectations that aren’t clearly defined, especially when dealing with complex websites that have been around for a while.
  • Customers – They become frustrated with siloed digital experiences that are challenging to navigate and often lead to dead ends.
  • Web performance – They struggle to deliver on key metrics such as a specific conversion rate or a particular number of acquisitions.

A digital experience audit gives you a clear view into your current digital channel performance, so you can build a path forward. It’s a powerful strategy that helps you highlight focus areas to address gaps and pain points and find opportunities to improve the experience and delight your audiences.

In this post, we’ll share our approach to conducting digital experience audits and outline the benefits you can expect to see from this process.

What is a digital experience audit?

A digital experience audit reviews your digital channels from a customer perspective, with a focus on performance, functionality, architecture, design and content. The audit identifies areas that need improvement and provides recommendations to enhance the experience for your audiences, delivering tangible value to your business.

In addition to your Sitecore website, we often include the following channels in our digital experience audits:

  • Email
  • Kiosk
  • Social media
  • In-person digital and offline experiences
  • Digital signage

Why you should use scenarios to frame your digital audit

Audits can often become fixated on usability heuristics. While heuristics can be helpful and useful for analysis, relying on them too heavily can make an audit bloated and overwhelming for organizations to act on.

Instead, we orient an audit around your audiences and what motivates them to use your digital channels. This allows us to leverage a scenario-based approach. So rather than taking on the onerous, and frankly questionable task, of auditing everything on your digital channels, we prioritize key scenarios and use them to frame the audit.

A scenario-based audit in action

To bring this idea to life, here’s a walkthrough of what a scenario-based audit can look like. Every organization is unique, so we always tailor the process to meet an organization’s needs.

1. Define experience outcomes

When organizations try to translate business outcomes directly into goals without considering who each channel is designed for, it can introduce challenges and bad habits such as obscuring important information for the sake of streamlining an experience. Instead, start by setting clear and intentional experience outcomes based on the goals and motivations of your digital audiences. You’ll build alignment around how to make your customers lives easier while also driving business value.


A sporting goods retailer with physical stores, a website and other digital channels would like to increase membership for its reward points program. They identified the following experience outcome: members are confident that they’ll be able to use their points for exactly what they want to, because they feel the program is trustworthy, reliable and transparent.

2. Prioritize scenarios and tasks

What are the different reasons that people visit your channels? Explore the scenarios your audiences come to your digital channels with and the tasks they aim to complete.  Using this journey-oriented approach, you can immerse yourself in the user’s goals, motivations as you flow through the experience.


For the audit, our retailer prioritizes a scenario where a user wants to join their program after visiting a store. As part of this scenario, the primary user task is to visit the website to sign up. They’d also like to add the points from their recent in-store purchase to their newly created account.

3. Analyze your ecosystem of digital channels

Once you’ve defined the key scenarios, you can use these to audit and analyze your digital channels. When we conduct an audit, our aim is to take in the holistic journey. While we spend a significant amount of focus on your website, we also look to understand the ecosystem of channels that the website operates in. This highlights the relationship between your website and your other channels, both online and offline.

To complete your analysis, choose a rubric for usability ratings that’s easy to use and allows you to clearly scale the issues you discover. In some cases, you may notice a task is impossible to complete, frustrating or just confusing. Deciding how to categorize these findings will help you prioritize your solutions.


When analyzing the scenario, our retailer paid attention to how easy it was for users to create a new account and add their in-store purchase points. Could they navigate the website without feeling confused or giving up? Could they easily find where to enter their points from their prior purchase? What could the user do if they needed help completing the task?

4. Compare peer experiences

You can learn a lot by looking outside of your own digital ecosystem. Explore a focused set of peer experiences both within and outside your industry to evaluate how differentiated your experience is. You may also uncover inspiration for how to solve key problems. This will ensure you steer clear of common pitfalls such as echo chambers that can perpetuate within a single industry.


As part of their audit, our retailer compared the user journey to similar flows with a leading loyalty program’s website. In the process, they discovered several ways they might streamline the process for their own users.

5. Conduct a performance and cost analysis

From an architectural and platform perspective, it’s a good idea to conduct a performance and cost analysis of the website and cloud infrastructure.

As part of our digital channel audits, we evaluate security practices and hardening measures. We also assess the Sitecore implementation against industry best practices and determine whether the existing Sitecore setup is suitable for multi-site implementations, content personalization and testing. Finally, we develop a strategy for upgrading Sitecore that can inform future budgeting and planning.

6. Review website performance

From a front-end development perspective, check your website’s performance by reviewing page load times and image sizes. A technical SEO audit will surface broken links, duplicate content, page metadata and the URL structure. This is also an opportunity to review your website’s accessibility compliance using automated tools and manual testing. Reviewing website analytics tracking can surface gaps and opportunities for data-driven decision-making. Finally, test your website on mobile and tablet devices for responsiveness.

7. Envision a future state

The focus areas that emerge from your audit will help inform and shape future streams of work and priorities. Now you’re ready to prioritize and evaluate how to best frame the future work, be it in the form of a backlog or a roadmap – whatever format your organization is already using.


One focus area for our retailer is member acquisition for their loyalty program. We could frame this in the form of a how might we (HMW) question. HMWs help us reframe problems or opportunities so that we’re encouraging thinking about a potential solution space.

How might we expedite the registering to become a new member so that it requires minimal effort upfront and the user can get value from the program earlier in their journey?

How you can get started

To complete a successful audit, start by taking stock of what you already know and acknowledging your blind spots. Organizations often underestimate the foundation they already have in place, like existing audience research, analytics or other data. Any information you have can help your team start to define your experience outcomes. It’s equally important to acknowledge what you don’t know and get clear on what you’d like to get out of the digital channel audit.

If you’d like to learn more about what a digital experience audit could look like for your organization, reach out to me, Kurtis Beard, or Ben Skelton

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