How to review a website?

I’m fortunate to be able to review many websites each day. Learning from the successes and failures of others is important to the success of my own current and future endeavors and equally important to readers of Website Magazine. But on what criteria should a website be judged? While there are no hard and fast rules to what makes one website “better” than another, when you look at professional and novice websites day in and day out, you end up getting a pretty good handle on what is going to work and what’s not.

Never one to cast the first virtual stone at the hard work of designers and web professionals, here are a few guidelines that I personally use each and every day to assess the overal design of a Web presence:

- Is the Design “pleasing?”
This is completely subjective, but most of us know when a design is pleasing. Mismatched colors and a variety of fonts only cause many to simply back away and perhaps never come back. Not only ugly, such sites look unprofessional and cause feelings of mistrust. How do you know if your website design is pleasing? Ask someone without a vested interest in you business or whom you trust and chances are good you’ll get a honest answer.

- Is the website “innovative?”
I am a proponent of using publically available templates for website design, whether they are from sources like OSWD or those that are found individually and used for WordPress blogs. When experts look at thousands of websites and notice that 10 or 20 feature the exact the same design, there is simply no way you’ll appear innovative, regardless of how innovative the idea or content being presented.

- Is the content “appealing?”
Here’s another tricky one. Content is typically appealing only to specific groups. Some of us are interested in benefits, others are interested in features. How does a designer satisfy both goals? Images assist greatly in developing “appeal.” If you know the audience, you’ll be able to find an image that reflects their demographic.

- Is the website “easy-to-use?”
There’s nothing more discouraging than website features that don’t work. Actually, scratch that – in fact there is. It’s the complicated, endless stream of navigation that turns off users (who will never return) more than it is broken links. The reason is that Web experts, just like consumers, are forgiving – but only to a certain point. Fail to explain how something works on the site or force detailed registration to access information and you’ll elicit some negative feelings with your potential customers. You need to identify your audience and give them what they want with as few clicks and hassles as possible.

- Does the website “meet it’s own goals?”
This is perhaps the most important point to consider when assessing a website. Often Web professional think more is better when, in reality, less is more. Not forcing users to make multiple decisions will benefit your bottom line. Have 10 goals for your website’s landing page? Cut it down to three and the conversion rate on all will be much better and earnings much higher. Don’t make users think – they won’t, they’ll just leave.

Website Conceptualization

Every business these days wants to have a presence on WWW; the main objective is to be able to target the global market and creating a profile of the company, which can be accessed by anyone from anywhere! This is opened many opportunities for the business involved in designing & development of websites, and depending upon the size of the business processes and approach for deploying a web based application changes. Which is very fair because everyone has his/her style of working and making deliverables, if the process & approach does not include all the basic steps of a software development life cycle it leads to the problems like – deadlines are not met and the scope of the work changes as the work progresses.

The clients might not be tech & internet savvy so they are not able to visualize how their site will look like and when they get the first demo of the application that is being developed for them it acts as the food for thought. They then try to relate it with what they are looking at and there business model. As a result they expect some changes to be done to the features or the style in which the information is being displayed on the website. Which results into requirement of additional time and effort for accommodating such things, and leads to the above mentioned problems.

There is a believe that anyone can start delivering web based services and can keep the cost low by not hiring people who actually are skilled to accomplish this task. The thought originates a company with the problems of delivering work which is not quality and ending up with unhappy customers.

Why this happens?

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