In my previous post, I discussed four factors to consider when evaluating your Website:
Here are eight more factors to consider.
Content and navigation need to work hand in hand. Too often a link is not clearly identified or is just plain incorrect.
Does your navigation work? Can people quickly get the information they need? How many layers do you have? (Generally people won’t go below two or three screens.)
Do your links describe the content of the pages they lead to? Are the “Back,” “Home” and “Top” links clearly labeled on every page? Are the major links available in two places per page (e.g., top and side)? Are the links in a logical order?
Is a site map available? Few people look at them, but they can be helpful, and the search engines love them.
Do all your links work? How often do you check them?
Do you have a built-in search engine to help users find information on your site?
Is your site readable? It seems silly to even mention, but many sites are hard to read. Copy is often too small or readability has been sacrificed for some visual effect (e.g., white copy on a colored background). So what size font do you have? What color?
Do you use sub-heads, bullets and other graphical elements to break up the copy and make it easier for people to scan? Most people scan Web pages. Only when they find what they’re looking for do they stop and read. Make it easy for them to find that information.
And avoid all caps except when required (e.g., acronym). All caps look angry online.
Is your layout pleasing, yet unobtrusive? Does it enhance your messages or distract from them?
Is the layout consistent? Do you use the same fonts and colors throughout? Do all the pages look like they came from the same company? Do you give the user the option to turn the graphics off?
How quickly does the site load? While fancy graphics and Flash demos may be pretty, most people are more concerned with getting information than watching dancing bears.
Are there any typos? Any grammatical errors? Has a writer outside the company reviewed the entire site? (I definitely recommend it, if only for proofreading purposes. I’ve found cases where the company’s name was misspelled on its site. This definitely doesn’t enhance the corporate image.)
Is the contact information complete, listing an address, phone, fax and e-mail?
Is the site up-to-date? When was it updated? How often is it reviewed?
Is your site printable? We all know the paperless office is a joke. People actually print off Websites. Make it easy for them to get a hard copy, even if you have to include a “printer-friendly” button.
Also, do you have a response mechanism in place if someone sends an e-mail or fills out an online form? It is just polite to confirm that the message has been received, if only by an auto responder.
What do your Web stats tell you? Check them regularly for key metrics, including:
- How many visitors are you getting?
- Is your traffic increasing? Decreasing? Staying the game?
- Where do your visitors typically enter the site?
- Which page(s) do they view?
- Where did they leave?
- How long do they stay?
Once you have that information, analyze your site to make sure the most important information is available on the most popular pages.
How are you driving traffic? Have you registered with the major search engines? Do you include the URL in all your marketing and PR materials? Have you considered a Pay-per-Click options?
You need to drive people to the site. In spite of popular folklore, Websites are definitely not a “build it and they will come” proposition.