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Website Usability Evaluation

July 31, 2007

The redesign of a website is a prime opportunity to make important changes to content, navigation, and functionality. It’s also a good time to step back and analyze the business objectives of the site and overall internet efforts, as well as to develop a long-term plan for getting the most from this communication channel.

One thing is evident: Excellent sites have great design and navigation. An organization that puts effort into developing a site that makes it is easy to find information also understands the importance of providing solid content and functionality.

Doing a website usability evaluation will help highlight areas where you would expect site visitors to experience problems, and provide a thorough analysis of the website’s usability strengths and weaknesses. For a brief website audit/evaluation process, it is important to create a detailed report showing where the site falls short of best practices. A full-blown website evaluation should also provide actionable site optimization recommendations and improvements. The report is a benchmark for future success and should create a prioritized plan of action.

Sometimes, my company is tasked to do a top-level analysis of competing sites as part of the website usability evaluation. The competitor analysis helps to identify strengths and weaknesses of competitors’ websites, which provides useful recommendations for guiding website strategy decisions, new ideas for improving the effectiveness of the website, and examples of what should be avoided.

Web Site Usability Evaluation Process:

• Assess your website’s objectives and intended audience.
• nteract with your website by posing as prospective and current customers.
• Identify your website’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
• Create a detailed report showing where the site falls short of best practice, and provide actionable site optimization
recommendations. (This report can be set up in tables in InDesign or Microsoft Word.)

Evaluations should be based on:

• Effectiveness
• Efficiency
• Reliability
• Compliance

There are several key performance categories that are used to audit website performance. They include: Marketing, Design, Navigation, Page Layout, Site Content, and Site Features/Technology.

The marketing category consists of several strategies and tactics used to identify, create and maintain satisfying relationships with customers that result in value for both the customer and the company.

Interface design is the development of the graphics and interactive processes that drive user experience. Success with design translates to higher conversion rates, increased usage, and greater user satisfaction.

A website’s navigation scheme and features should allow users to find and access information effectively and efficiently.

Page Layout
All web pages should be structured for ease of comprehension.

Site Content
Content provides the information needed by users and has competitive value.

Site Features/Technology

Just as designers consider their users’ needs for specific information, they must also consider any constraints imposed on them by their users’ hardware, software, and speed of connection to the Internet.

From the NoD Sponsor:

Sessions Online Schools of Art and Design is an accredited online graphic and web design school offering:

- Web design classes and web design Certificate Programs taught by renowned design instructors.

4 Responses to Website Usability Evaluation

  1. Kim on September 12, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    I am available to carry out an evaulation should the need arise. Thank you for asking.

  2. Search Engine Optimization on January 19, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    I totally agree with you Kim, if there’s one thing that webmasters must continue doing, it has to be TESTING. There will always be room for improvement, look at amazon, they change (however minute the changes are) their site countless of times to improve user experience and conversions — and they found whats working by… guess what? Testing.

  3. Earl Somantri on May 5, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Muchos Gracias for your blog post.Thanks Again. Really Great.

  4. J White on September 26, 2012 at 3:45 am

    Thanks for sharing these evaluation/ checklist. Applying all of these correctly can definitely increase your keyword rankings. It’s easier to said than done but possible.

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