50 Questions to Evaluate the Quality of Your Website

By Carsten Cumbrowski

How good is the quality of your website, really? Here is a pretty detailed list of questions every website owner should asked themselves. If the answer to every question  below is yes, give yourself a big ole pat on the back.  Most websites have flaws for a number of different reasons, mostly related to the limitation of resources.

This 50 questions long questionnaire might trigger something here and there for some of you or maybe brings some forgotten item from the long to-do list back into your mind. 

Accessibility

  1. Is content structurally separate from navigational elements?
  2. Is the website cross-browser compatible?
  3. How compliant is the website with W3C coding standards? Valid HTML/CSS?
  4. Are ‘alt’ tags in place on all significant images?
  5. Are text-based alternatives in place to convey essential information if this is featured within images or multimedia files?

Navigation

  1. Are links labeled with anchor text that provides a clear indication of where they lead without over using exact match anchor text?
  2. Depth – what is the maximum number of clicks it takes to reach a page within the depths of the site?
  3. If a splash screen or navigation feature is provided in a Java/JavaScript/Flash format, is a text-based alternative also available?
  4. Responsive on click feedback – Is a response given immediately (0.1 seconds) after a click is made on a hyperlink?
  5. Do clickable items stylistically indicate that they are clickable?
  6. How intuitive is it to navigate? Are signs obvious or obscured? Buttons/Links Like Text, that are not clickable and vice versa, links/buttons that cannot be identified as such
  7. Is it readable? Consider type face, font size, color contrast.
  8. Is there a clear statement of PURPOSE of the site? Purpose must be clear within a few seconds.
  9. Do you have clear call to action on each page?
  10. Is a logical site map available?, If not, is a keyword-based search feature available? Note: Large (multi-thousands of pages) sites should have a search form.

Design

  1. Is the site’s design aesthetically appealing?
  2. Are the colors used harmonious and logically related?
  3. Are the color choices visually accessible? (For example high enough in contrast to assist the colorblind and visually impaired in reading the site appropriately)
  4. Is the design audience appropriate?- The standard text size should be readable for visitors who don’t know how to adjust their browsers.
  5. Are the fonts easy to read on various screen resolutions?

Content

  1. Is the website copy succinct but informative?
  2. Does the copywriting style suit the website’s purpose and ‘speak’ to its target audience?
  3. Are bodies of text constrained to <80 characters per line?
  4. Can text be resized through the browser or do CSS settings restrict size alteration?
  5. Is the contrast between text and its background color sufficient to make reading easy on the eyes?
  6. Is text broken into small, readable chunks and highlighted using headings, sub-headings, and emphasis features where appropriate to assist in skimming?
  7. Within articles, are there links to more detailed explanations of subjects, or definitions of jargon terms?
  8. Do you have an “about page” that identifies the author of the content, credits to source for content that was not written by the site owner himself?
  9. Do you have testimonials and publish them on the site?
  10. Do you update the content regularly and don’t live by the phrase “set it and forget it”?

Security

  1. Any obvious security flaws?
  2. How resilient are forms to special characters?
  3. Are private directories password protected via .htaccess?
  4. Are public non-document directories (cgi-bin, images, etc) indexable or are blank index.html pages or appropriate permission settings in place to block access?
  5. Is customer data stored online? If so, is this database appropriately safeguarded against external access?

Other Technical Considerations

  1. Does the site load quickly – even for mobile users?
  2. Are all links (internal and external) valid and active?
  3. Are scripts free from errors?
  4. Is the website free from server side errors?

Other Marketing Considerations

  1. Is the website properly optimized for search engines (essential text emphasized, title tags relevant, title text presented in H1, outbound links reliable and contextually related, etc)
  2. Does the index page entice a visitor deeper into the site or shopping cart?
  3. Does the website contain elements designed to encourage future or viral visitation (i.e. a contest, newsletter, tell-a-friend feature, and forum with subscription option, downloadable toolbar, RSS feed or similar)?
  4. Robots.txt configured?
  5. Site Map available?
  6. Is every page accessible at least via a single plain HTML Link (no JavaScript or Flash Link)?
  7. Does every page have at least some text in the content? (How much Text remains on the Page if you remove all Images, Videos, Flash, Java Applets and JavaScript Code? Anything? Does the remainder still states the pages purpose?)
  8. Is every individual page only accessible via a single URL or are several URLs available (and worse, used) to access the same page? Duplicate Content Issue, Canonical URLs.

Legal Stuff/Re-Assurance/Legitimization

  1. Did you include a Contact Us page with real address, phone number (toll free for businesses) and contact form or email available, basically a clear and easy to use feedback/contact mechanism?
  2. DMCA Notice up? Terms of Use page available where you specify what you do and why and what visitors have to agree on if they want to use your site? This is to protect yourself from complains or worse regarding things that you cannot control properly, such as links to third party websites or ads from automated systems such as Google AdSense etc.
  3. Privacy Policy up (especially if you collect data, email, names, and web analytics tracking cookies)?

Cheers!
Carsten Cumbrowski
Internet Marketing Resources at Cumbrowski.com including very comprehensive product data feed resources for advertisers and publishers.