Get To Know Your Competitors, They Could Be Your Best Friends

Before you decide to take the plunge and get a new website built, there are some things you should consider. So often, people are all too keen to move into the fun elements of designing a site without dedicating the required time to online strategy.

When I chat to people about getting a new site built, one of the first questions I ask is: who are your competitors and what are they doing online?

Analysing your competitors’ online presence is exceptionally beneficial, as it allows a business to determine what the competition is doing, providing a market benchmark. Not only do you consciously focus on what your competitors are doing in the online space, which is obviously a good thing, but it also allows a business to internally review the strengths and weaknesses of their own site. In taking the time to review your competitors, your own weaknesses and strengths become more apparent, as there is a clear, discernible reference point.

You might be wondering though, how do I undertake a competitor analysis? Where do I start?

This task should not be a laborious or daunting task. You should view it as an enjoyable exercise to stamp your competitive edge. When commencing an online competitor analysis, I split the exercise into three key tasks: Overall impression, notable functionality and ease of use.

Overall Impression

The overall impression is exactly that, your first reaction and thoughts of the site. Don’t worry about being too technical, jot-down your initial thoughts: what you like, what you perceive to be flaws and weaknesses.

Some questions to keep in mind:

  • Are there any clear calls to action?
  • Is the content engaging?
  • Is the navigation clear?
  • Is it obvious what to do?

These questions are simple and are a great way to kick-off brain storming.

Notable Functionality

What line of business you are in will dictate the site’s functionality. For instance, if you’re a sports retail store, do any of your competitors have e-commerce functionality? Things to consider when noting functionality:

  • Is there a blog?
  • Is there a member’s area?
  • Can you view videos?
  • Is there a forum?

Ease of Use

The ‘Ease of Use’ is a pretty straight forward concept, which focuses on how usable a site is. When documenting how usable a site is, I generally break-up the review into four areas: homepage, architecture, usability and search. Some things I like to consider when checking how usable a site is:


  • Is there a ‘good feeling’ about what the site is about?
  • Is pertinent content from deeper within the site displayed on the homepage?
  • Is there a clear delineation of content


  • Is there a logical approach to the main site structure?
  • Are the labels intuitive?
  • Is there a solid consistent approach to delivering the navigation?
  • Is there an appropriate visual hierarchy for the navigation?


  • Is there appropriate use of screen real estate?
  • Is there a clear page structure?
  • Is the page structure consistently delivered?
  • Is the font easy to read?
  • Is there enough white space?


  • Is the search available in a consistent place on all pages?
  • Does it stand out?
  • Are the results well laid out

These questions are merely intended to provide some ideas of the sorts of things you ought to be enquiring about. There is no shortage to the amount of questions you can ask.

Remember, it’s important to get to know your competitors, the assistance they provide in the development of your own site is critical. They could turn out to be your best friends!