January is Evaluate Your Website month!
In my previous two articles I laid the ground work for my 2013 series, which will focus on SMART Websites. SMART websites were defined in my previous two articles as those that reflect web development best practices, in that they are Strategic & Sustainable, Measurable, Attractive and Accessible, provide ROI, and are Targeted.
This is the perfect time of the year to take a close look at your website and evaluate its effectiveness, to make certain that it is working well, and to identify areas that may require some improvement before the coming year. If your site is over a year old, if you update your content frequently, or if more than one person is updating your site, an annual quality check is certainly in order.
There are three overriding criteria that can make or break a website, and this is where you should start:
In my last article I talked about Accessibility. This week we will delve further in to Usability and the User Experience (UX).
UX for web refers to everything that fashions the end user experience, including appearance and design, navigation, how your content is presented and how easy it is to find the information they seek. Here are some key criteria for you to use in evaluating your own site.
- Is your website design aesthetically appealing?
- Are the colors harmonious and appropriate to your message and product?
- Will your design be attractive to your desired audience?
- Is there a good balance between images and text?
- Do you have a Flash-based header or splash page? If so, you should know that iPads. iPhones and some other MAC operating systems won’t display Flash. Does your site offer a text-based alternative to capture these viewers?
- Does your site load quickly, even for dial up users?
- How intuitive is your navigation? Make it as clear as possible – web visitors don’t want to guess.
- Are clickable and non clickable navigational items such as buttons, text links, images, downloads, etc., clearly identified?
- Do the links on your site display anchor text to give a clear indication of where they lead.
- How many clicks are required to reach your most important content?
- Are there navigational dead ends?
- Is your content succinct, informative, relevant and current?
- Is your content written with the appropriate “voice”? Does it speak to your targeted demographic?
- Is there sufficient contrast between text and its background color, making it easy on the eyes?
- Is content presented in readable chunks and have you incorporated appropriate headings and sub headings to facilitate content skimming?
- Have you checked your internal and external links lately? Are they all still valid? Do all links display with anchor text to identify where they lead?
- Are there clear calls to action, where appropriate?
Just as you visit the doctor for an annual checkup, it’s important to give the same attention to your website. Proactively uncover little things that may be hindering your site’s performance and you will be better positioned to achieve your business’s website objectives.
Next time, we will concentrate on your website’s marketing considerations.