The Net Gain Website Audit

Net Gain was founded in 1996 by John Alexander, an attorney admitted to practice in California and Ohio who has an equal breadth of experience in law, journalism, business management and the internet.

Net Gain's specialty is an audit-style review of existing websites with an eye for national legal standards compliance, privacy and security consciousness, accessibility, usability and overall effectiveness.

Our process is tailored to your needs and specifications. For a typical website audit, all of the following issues, and others specific to your industry, are examined:

There are basic two types of Net Gain audits:

A basic review is based on a sampling of the site's pages. This can be useful to run initially, to help identify the most significant issues, and to prioritize upgrades needed.

A full audit involves examination of every page of the site, and is billed hourly or by a fee gauged to the complexity of the site and number of pages to be reviewed. If a significant site upgrade/revision carried out, many customers will run a full audit on completion to ensure that the required standards and performance goals have been achieved on each and every page.

Legal/regulatory issues

Use of the internet as a communications medium raises all the same legal issues found with print, television and other communications media, and adds a few unique to cyberspace. We highlight and help the client address all areas which may present legal problems, or offer potential advantages.

Are there existing or proposed federal statutes or regulations which impact the way you need to present your organization online? Are you among those who are, or will soon be, subject to federal site accessibility rules? Do you have a "terms of use" page? Privacy page? Have you protected your site's intellectual property adequately, via copyright and trademark registration where appropriate? Are international laws and conventions applicable (it is the world wide web, after all)?

Site Usability

In tandem with accessibility issues, we look at the overall usability of the website. Net Gain employs many of the same usability "heuristics" championed by interface design guru Jakob Nielsen, balanced by existing online norms and principles of good graphic design.

In usability evaluation, the emphasis is on the ease with which a typical visitor can find his or her way around the site, use the resources provided and respond to the client if more information is desired.

The site's overall structure and navigational tools are reviewed in light of the client's subject matter, available information resources (online and off), and industry-specific norms. How easily can a visitor get from an interior page to other relevant site information? And perhaps most important, what is the quality and consistency of the information presented at the site? How could that substantive content be upgraded or expanded, thereby raising the client's online image?

Site Effectiveness

In 2004, a commonly-heard question for any internet investment is, "What is my return on investment?" Often, clients have sites with inadequate visitation logging or reporting, giving them very little basis for measuring the effectiveness of their websites.

As a part of our audit, Net Gain looks at available site visitation and referrer log files or reports, to extract past trends, and to suggest ways of capitalizing on trends. If existing logging or reporting is inadequate, Net Gain will suggest fixes.

In addition to accessibility considerations for the visually impaired, how accessible is your site by the burgeoning audience of non-computer browsers, such as internet "appliances" and PDAs? Does your site code separatd style from content, both for accessibility by multiple platforms and for economy of file size? One of Net Gain's specialties is converting existing sites to this superior approach, using modern cascading style sheets and dynamic HTML to achieve faster downloading pages that cost less to run because they use less bandwidth.

Beyond the appearance of pages to visitors, Net Gain examines the effectiveness of existing client site marketing. How is the prospective audience made aware of the site? What sites are currently linking to the client site? How close to the top of the list is the client site when a relevant search is entered at Google or other popular web search engines? Ways of increasing those incoming links are detailed with specificity.

Ways of inexpensively leveraging existing print marketing pieces into web resources - and vice versa - are broached, along with a general look at client integration of the website into overall business methodology.

Final Report, Conference and Collaboration

For most issues, Net Gain is able to both identify an issue and suggest a fix, whether technical, style or substantive. So, for example, if a privacy policy needs to be drafted or updated, we will propose appropriate language and explain its basis in a form useful to management or existing counsel. If the problem is more complex, or involves the application of the laws of states other than California or Ohio, we will point out the area in need of more specific advice, and suggest the appropriate type of practitioner or technical consultant to provide more depth.

Always, you have a written report documenting Net Gain observations and proposed actions, step by step - something you can give the appropriate manager, counsel or IT consultant.

Contact Net Gain Communications Consultants

If you would like to more information about the Net Gain website audit process, including a current rate schedule, please submit a contact form and we will respond right away. We do not list our email address on our site, to discourage "spam harvesting" of the addresses.

Effective July 2004: The California Online Privacy Protection Act

Do you ever receive website responses (including email) from residents of California? Then be sure your privacy policy complies with the new California requirements.

Compliance with online privacy standards is just part of our website audit. Contact attorney John Alexander at Net Gain for more information.

How does a Net Gain website audit work?

Though the audit is tailored to your needs, generally there are three stages to the process:

Information Gathering

From the client, we gather any mission statement, copies of recent ads, brochures or other marketing pieces, as well as an idea of organizational goals for the site.

Research & Analysis

Net Gain reviews the client's website as well as competitive sites, in light of prevailing laws and standards, and client goals.

Reporting & Follow-Up

The client receives a review of the existing website, and proposed priorities for upgrade, in a detailed, illustrated written report. A follow-up meeting with the client's decision-makers and Net Gain principal John Alexander is held at the client's offices or by teleconference.

Read our terms of use and copyright notice, and our privacy policy for more information on each of these subjects.
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View copyright policy, Net Gain Communications ConsultantsCopyright 1996-2004 Net Gain Communications Consultants; all rights reserved. Net Gain consults with businesses, professional firms and non-profit organizations to help them meet regulatory, professional and industry standards, as well as their own communications goals. Contact us for more information.