Every website owner should ask themselves is my site ok?
Any high quality site should arrive quickly, be accessible, have clear navigation, a clean striking design with compelling regular content, the odd deep read and should be robust enough to handle hackers, spammers, link-baiters and content scrapers.
Lets look at these elements item by item.
- Is content structurally separate from navigational elements?
- Is the website cross-browser compatible?
- How compliant is the website with W3C coding standards? Valid HTML/CSS?
- Are ‘alt’ tags in place on all significant images?
- Are text-based alternatives in place to convey essential information if this is featured within images or multimedia files?
- Are links labeled with anchor text that provides a clear indication of where they lead without over using exact match anchor text?
- Depth – what is the maximum number of clicks it takes to reach a page within the depths of the site?
- Responsive on click feedback – Is a response given immediately (0.1 seconds) after a click is made on a hyperlink?
- Do clickable items stylistically indicate that they are clickable?
- 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
- Is it readable? Consider type face, font size, colour contrast.
- Is there a clear statement of PURPOSE of the site? Purpose must be clear within a few seconds.
- Do you have clear call to action on each page?
- 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.
- Is the site’s design aesthetically appealing?
- Are the colours used harmonious and logically related?
- Are the colour choices visually accessible? (For example high enough in contrast to assist the colourblind and visually impaired in reading the site appropriately)
- Is the design audience appropriate?- The standard text size should be readable for visitors who don’t know how to adjust their browsers.
- Are the fonts easy to read on various screen resolutions?
- Is the website copy succinct but informative?
- Does the copywriting style suit the website’s purpose and ‘speak’ to its target audience?
- Are bodies of text constrained to <80 characters per line?
- Can text be resized through the browser or do CSS settings restrict size alteration?
- Is the contrast between text and its background color sufficient to make reading easy on the eyes?
- Is text broken into small, readable chunks and highlighted using headings, sub-headings, and emphasis features where appropriate to assist in skimming?
- Within articles, are there links to more detailed explanations of subjects, or definitions of jargon terms?
- 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?
- Do you have testimonials and publish them on the site?
- Do you update the content regularly and don’t live by the phrase “set it and forget it”?
- Any obvious security flaws?
- How resilient are forms to special characters?
- Are private directories password protected via .htaccess?
- 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?
- Is customer data stored online? If so, is this database appropriately safeguarded against external access?
Other Technical Considerations
- Does the site load quickly – even for mobile users?
- Are all links (internal and external) valid and active?
- Are scripts free from errors?
- Is the website free from server side errors?
- Is the website properly optimised for search engines (essential text emphasised, title tags relevant, title text presented in H1, outbound links reliable and contextually related, etc)
- Does the index page entice a visitor deeper into the site or shopping cart?
- 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)?
- Robots.txt configured?
- Site Map available?
- 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.
- 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?