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Old 05-15-2005, 07:51 PM   #1

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Question How do you evaluate websites?

Geek/Talk's "Webmaster Issues" forum has long been a famous source of website evaluation information. That said, the evaluation process has often been a fairly piecemeal affair in which a few subjective opinions are provided regarding layout, functionality, reliability and the like.

While this process remains highly valuable, thanks to the input made by a number of our skilled members, it could arguably be enhanced through the development of a basic evaluation checklist.

If any of you have developed a checklist of this type in the past, please share a few tips here in an effort to help us build a definitive list against which any site may be objectively evaluated, its strengths identified and its weaknesses rectified.

Following are a few category headings and suggested evaluation criteria to get us started down this path. Please feel free to suggest additions or subtractions to this list, based on your knowledge of common failings in website design and marketing:
1. Accessibility
- Is content structurally separate from navigational elements?
- Is the website cross-browser compatible?
- How compliant is the website with W3C coding standards? Valid HTML/CSS?
- Are 'alt' tags in place on all significant images?
- Are text-based alternatives in place to convey essential information if this is featured within images or multimedia files?

2. Navigation
- Are links labelled with anchor text that provides a clear indication of where they lead.
- Depth - what is the maximum number of clicks it takes to reach a page within the depths of the site?
- If a splash screen or navigation feature is provided in a Java/Javascript/flash format, is a text-based alternative also available?
- Responsive onclick feedback - Is a response given immediately (0.1 seconds) after a click is made on a hyperlink?
- Do clickable items stylistically indicate that they are clickable?
- Is a logical site map available?
- If not, is a keyword-based search feature available?

3. Design
- Is the site's design aesthetically appealing?
- Are the colours used harmonious and logically related?
- Are the colour choices visually accessible? (Ie high enough in contrast to assist the colour blind and visually impaired in reading the site appropriately)
- Is the design audience appropriate?

4. Content
- Is the website copy succinct but informative?
- Does the copywriting style suit the website's purpose and 'speak' to its target audience?
- Are bodies of text constrained to <80 characters per line?
- Can text be resized through the browser or do CSS settings restrict size alteration?
- Is the contrast between text and its background colour sufficient to make reading easy on the eyes?
- Is text broken into small, readable chunks and highlighted using headings, sub-headings and emphasis features where appropriate to assist in skimming.

5. Security
- Any obvious security flaws?
- How resilient are forms to special characters?
- Are private directories password protected via .htaccess?
- Are public non-document directories (cgi-bin, images, etc) indexable or are blank index.html pages or appropriate permission settings in place to block access?
- Is customer data stored online? If so, is this database appropriately safeguarded against external access?

6. Other Technical Considerations
- Does the site load quickly - even for dialup users
- Are all links (internal and external) valid and active?
- Are scripts free from errors?
- Is the website free from server side errors?

7. Other Marketing Considerations
- Is the website properly optimised for search engines (essential text emphasised, title tags relevant, title text presented in H1, outbound links reliable and contextually related, etc)
- Does the index page entice a visitor deeper into the site or shopping cart?
- Does the website contain elements designed to encourage future or viral visitation (ie a contest, newsletter, tell-a-friend feature, forum with subscription option, downloadable toolbar, RSS feed or similar)?
This is just a rough starting point. Please do suggest modifications based on your prior experienced in developing and evaluating websites and we'll see if, together, we can develop a truly definitive criteria list that may be used both on "Webmaster Issues" and in evaluating our own creations in the future.

Thanks in advance.

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Old 05-16-2005, 07:00 AM   #2
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This is a great summary! My websites fail in a few areas But I do put a lot of time into improvements.

Once you get so many thousands of pages and pieces of content, it is very hard to maintain and organize it all.

Takes years of tweaking.
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Old 05-16-2005, 11:56 PM   #3

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Very true, and I certainly hear you. My own websites, particularly the larger static sites to which I'm tacked on all sorts of additions over the years, would fail in many, many of these areas.

Hopefully a base criteria list along these lines will help publishers to avoid common pitfalls when planning and developing their own sites in the future, however, while also providing a template against which to evaluate websites professionally and on this BB.

If you have any suggestions to make as to how the list may be improved, simplified or expanded, please feel free to let me know. This will be a work in progress for some time, no doubt.

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Old 07-23-2005, 01:17 AM   #4
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A clear security / privacy policy, explaining use of visitor info, and pledging to never spam.

Within articles, there should be links to more detailed explanations of subjects, or definitions of jargon terms.

Clear feedback/contact mechanism. A visitor might not assume webmaster@ or you might want them to write elsewhere, or you might prefer to give them a form to structure their communications.

Large (multi-thousands of pages) sites should have a search form.

The standard text size should be readable, for visitors who don't know how to adjust their browsers.

The fonts should be easily readable, and degrade gracefully.

Should look OK on various screen resolutions.

Last edited by wsz; 07-23-2005 at 01:19 AM.
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Old 08-23-2005, 08:37 AM   #5
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Good point with detail summary.

I just add that all WebPages should fully compliant with the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
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Old 10-29-2005, 10:56 AM   #6
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- who is behind this website?
- displays who wrote/created the page?
- is this a real online business?
- e-mail address?
- testimonials?

Webpage up-to-date
- current, is it dated?
- date of last revision?
- been updated recently?
- planned updates are stated?
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Old 02-14-2006, 05:29 PM   #7
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www.sitesolutions.com is a great site for this one, it analyses things such as meta tags and keywords.
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Old 05-08-2006, 06:16 PM   #8
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Go to useit.com the best place for all those issues. This site is done by the king on web site usabilty Jakob Nielsen. if its worth doing its on there.

Pay particluar attention to his famous 10 heuristics.

His top ten mistakes are also very interesting, here
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Old 06-22-2006, 03:31 PM   #9
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I want to evaluate my website too. I am very curios about my work which I start it just a few mounths ago.
This is very interesed thread. Thanks any way.
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Old 08-04-2006, 06:40 PM   #10
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yes, a lot of interesting information, i learned a lot from this thread.
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Old 11-08-2006, 12:45 AM   #11
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- How intuitive is it to navigate? Are signs obvious or obscured? Buttons/Links Like Text, that are not clickable and vice versa, links/buttons that can not be identified as such
- readability (somewhat addressed already), type face, font size
- clear statement of PURPOSE of the site? Purpose must become clear within a few seconds without reading much or no text copy at all.
- Call to action on every page, no dead ends

SEO extended
- Different Title for every page that start (or at least have it as 2nd or 3rd word) with the single most relevant key phrase that describes the content or function of the page the best
(if you have to explain what the page is for and can only use 1-3 words as Keyword or Phrase, what would it be?)
- Robots.txt configured?
- Site Map available?
- Is every page accessible at least via a single plain HTML Link (no JavaScript or Flash Link)?
- Does every page has at least some text in the content? (How much Text remains on the Page if you remove all Images, Videos, Flash, Java Applets and Javascript Code? Anything? Is the remainder still states the pages purpose?)
- Is every individual page only accessible via a single URL or are several URLs available (and worse, used) to access the same page? Duplicate Content Issue, Canonical URLs.

Legal Stuff/Re-Assurance/Legitimization
- Contact Page with Real Address, Phone Number (Tool Free for Business) and Contact Form or Email available?
- DMCA Notice up? Terms of Use?
- Privacy Policy up (especially if you collect data, email, names, and web analytics tracking cookies)?

I recommend to check out the books "Don't make me think" which is a classic and "Prioritizing Web Usability" which is new and also considers SEO as resource for Web Usability. Honest pitch. Own them both and half the stuff I cited is not my own interlectual property, but from those two books .

<<Snipped link to affiliate links>>

Don't make me think at Amazon.com

Prioritizing Web Usability

no affiliate links and no link to my site about this topic (which has (also some) affiliate links to amazon - shoot the marketer hehe)
you can get the books at every well sorted book store. BN, Buy.com you name it

Last edited by Cumbrowski; 11-08-2006 at 01:41 AM.
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Old 09-16-2007, 03:49 AM   #12
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Best way to review your site is to ask yourself would you come back to this site if you accidentally found it on internet?
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Old 09-19-2007, 08:50 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by AudiS2 View Post
Best way to review your site is to ask yourself would you come back to this site if you accidentally found it on internet?
Good point!
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Old 10-23-2007, 09:42 PM   #14
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thanks.It is very useful for me.
my web is very new,but I will make it better and better.
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Old 11-07-2007, 12:35 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Timinator View Post
Good point!
Small world Tim!

This is EZ from Transmitter.
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