Evaluating a website refers to having a critical examination of the website. It usually involves reviewing the website for its potential visitors (users), validating the claims on the website, and determining whether the website is worth your effort and other resources.
Before we go through the general factors you should consider when evaluating a website, here are five quick steps on evaluating a website:
- Visit the website – of course, you have to.
- Explore the website, sign up for membership – if you can – and explore free trials or demos, just to get a feel of the website.
- Think of ways to make the site better.
- Find problems and challenges with the website.
- Put together your evaluation report by including information such as the overview of the website’s main functions, the best features of the website, the hitches and problems, and then compare the site with other similar websites.
Now let’s go to the specific factors you should look out for when exploring the website and writing your evaluation report.
The time taken by a website to load is an important consideration as it determines the number of visitors and users to a website. I personally switched from Yahoo mail to Gmail because of how fast Gmail loads. I am not sure if Yahoo mail still takes a long time to load, but the lesson is, do the pages load quickly? You can even use free tools online to test the speed of the website and compare to other similar websites.
Here are a few questions to ask here: How is the navigation system on the website? Is it structured with ease in mind or do you find it clumsy? Are you on a page and lost because you need to get to another page and you do not know how to? Or you cannot seem to find a very important page?
Is the navigation system seamless? Is there logic and hierarchy to the arrangement of pages on the menu bar?
You should also check if the website has a search feature that allows people look up stuff on the website. It helps a lot with navigation, especially when the website contains a lot of content.
3. Text Clarity
You also need to consider things like readability. Do you find the copy on the website clumsy and difficult to read and understand? The font should be clean and easy to read, not distracting. The website should not also contain unnecessary text and be cluttered up with useless information.
Every copy on the website should be useful. Watch out for typos too. This factor summarises that all text on the website should add value, be clean, pass a clear message and be concise.
The first thing on functionality is how well the website does what it professes to do. When you click on links, they should take you to the correct pages. All the features (like forms, surveys, and social share buttons) should work correctly. How often did you encounter error messages and what kind of messages? Every website should contain clear prompts and directions to help visitors understand the use of every feature.
Broken links are a no-no. Features like breadcrumbs (a trail of hyperlinks that lead consecutively to the current page), auto-fill ability and social media share buttons are a plus.
The appearance of a website is essential; so when evaluating a website, you should check out the layout of the pages. From the home page to all the other relevant pages, does it work well? This includes things like visual spacing, simplicity, and organisation of information.
A well laid out website should be easy to scan. The colour scheme should be harmonious, and the images should be relevant to the copy. Dynamic websites are in fashion now, but this does not mean that static websites are no longer worthy to exist. It all depends on how well the web development and design were executed.
Other factors to consider when evaluating a website include browser and device compatibility (i.e. is the website responsive to different devices and browsers?) and security (i.e. does the website have SSL?). The ‘S’ in HTTPS denotes the website has SSL certificate, and it is secured.
Depending on the function of every website, factors to be considered will differ, but the above factors are things that should work correctly on all website regardless of purpose. On a basic level, the convenience of the user and delivery of functions are the two major elements of any good website.
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