Business owner’s guide to evaluating your website
It is hard for any person or business to evaluate their own website. It’s hard to be objective and it’s hard to put yourself in the position of a new site visitor who does not know the things that you know. It is harder still if you don’t know what the important factors are in evaluating a website. Here are few questions to ask yourself when appraising your existing website.
Calls to action
If you don’t know anything about the business, can you clearly understand the nature of the business within 4 seconds of looking at the home page? Can you immediately tell what geographical region this business serves?
Does the website intuitively lead the visitor to the next step?
Buttons/links that say “Read more”, “Get in touch”, etc. lead visitors to take the next step on the website. Without any such help, the visitor may leave the website and you would have lost a potential lead.
Does the top of your home page contain the most important information that you want to convey to your visitor?
“Above the fold” is to newspapers as “top of the home page” is to a website. It is the place of highest visibility where the most important information should lie. This increases the likelihood that a visitor will interact with those features.
Design & Aesthetics
From a purely aesthetic standpoint, design can be subjective. What one person finds attractive may differ from another person’s taste. However, there is more to web design than personal aesthetic preference. A website is, first and foremost, a marketing tool. The website’s design should reflect the brand’s personality and should be crafted appeal to the target audience. Most importantly, the design needs to effectively communicate what the business does and provide an intuitive path for the user to do what you want them to do (i.e., contact you, buy a product, etc.).
Here are some questions to ask about your website:
- Do the colors used on the website complement the colors on the logo?
- Do the images or the website embellishments get in the way of the marketing message?
- Is there enough contrast between the background and the font colors? Are the fonts large enough? If not, then the text may be hard to read.
- Is the style consistent throughout the website?
- Are the buttons and links obvious?
- Is the design appropriate for the audience?
- Is the textual content placed in one long and boring block or are they broken out into easy-to-read logical chunks?
This may seem obvious, but it very common to see websites where the contact information is difficult to find. You don’t want your site visitor to have to click around various places looking for this information.
This may include the following information:
- Phone number
- Contact form
- Email address
- Geographic region served (for example, you may be located in San Carlos, but do you serve the entire Bay Area?)
- Is the website mobile-friendly?
- Are all the links (internal & external) active and valid?
- Does the website work well on different browsers?
- Are there any Flash videos/applications on the website?
- How long do the pages take to load?
There are now more site views happening on mobile devices than on desktops or laptops. It’s important for your website to work well for those users. In addition, your search engine rankings are lower if your site is not mobile-friendly. Go to Google’s page for mobile-friendly testing and it will analyze a URL and report if the page has a mobile-friendly design.
If you intended a part of text to be a link, but forgot to make it a link, that is an inactive link. You make it active by including the URL of the link destination. A valid link is one which works (i.e, no errors) and which leads you to the correct location.
It is essential these days for your website to work well on the most popular browsers on both Windows and Mac computers.
Flash is an outdated technology that not all devices support.
Longer a page takes to load, the worse it is for retaining a visitor’s attention. In addition, your search engine rankings will be adversely affected if your site is slow. Particular care needs to be taken with videos and large images since they often consume a lot of bandwidth.
Design conventions are very important online. They help visitors intuitively know where to look for information. This reduces the frustration of not knowing one’s way around a new website.
Does your website look and feel markedly different from a lot of other websites? If yes, you may be flouting convention. Unless you are in an edgy field or have a good reason to move away from convention, don’t.