Developing Website Quality Through Website Evaluation

As a website owner how do you ensure you have a quality website that has been designed for its purpose of attracting visitors and getting them to take the action/s you want?

Before you can develop a quality website you need to understand what quality means. It’s a common enough term but what does it actually mean and how do we define quality?

Webster’s Collegiate dictionary product-evaluation gives a definition for quality as “being of high quality” – really useful.

The Oxford Reference dictionary gives the definition of quality as “degree or level of excellence.”

I think of quality as being something that’s well designed, well made and fit for its purpose. If it looks good and stylish that’s a bonus. But if something looks good, but is not well designed or made and not fit for the purpose it was intended I would strongly argue that’s not a measure of quality.

There’s a lot more to good quality website design than what a site looks like, in fact that accounts for less than 5% of the elements that make up an effective website. That may surprise you if you’re a website owner or web designer who places a lot of emphasis on appearance.

There are two common sayings that apply just as much to websites and they are:

“don’t judge a book by its cover”
“appearances can be deceptive”
For a website being well designed and made is the stuff under the hood, much of which you don’t see but both affect whether the website will be fit for its purpose. But what is the purpose of a website?

Well, for a business website it’s to attract visitors and get them to take some desired action.

In the manufacturing world terms like quality, quality control and quality assurance are now common place, but on the world wide web, website quality control and quality assurance are far from being common place.

In fact in my experience quality control with regard to websites is as rare as RHS. Finding RHS involves rocking horses and s_ _ t, I’ll leave you to fill in the blanks.

Ensuring a quality website in the web world means doing what they do in the manufacturing world. That is using quality controls that evaluate the product and its processes against pre-defined standards.

In manufacturing you only know if you have a quality product fit for its purpose if you evaluate it. Similarly you only know if you have a quality website fit for its purpose, if you evaluate the website.

“That means carrying out a website evaluation also known as a website audit”

I recently updated two checklists that we use during website development, one was a web page evaluation checklist, the other a website checklist. By the time I had finished, the number of aspects to evaluate about a web page had grown to over 150, with another 120 to consider for the overall website.

These design aspects were spread over 12 categories for a webpage and 12 categories for a website which were:

Navigation and orientation
Help and support
Error handling
Visitor control
Visitor language & security
Keeping visitors informed
Visual design
Search engine optimization
Looking at this list you can see there is only category that deals with website appearance and that’s under “Visual design.” I should also add there’s not a single check that asks if the site looks good. That’s because it’s irrelevant to developing a good quality webpage and website.

Whether you’re a web designer or a website owner you should be evaluating your website

The web designer should be carrying out a website evaluation as part of the design process to ensure they are designing and making a website the owner wants.

The website owner should be carrying out a website evaluation to ensure the web designer has made a website fit for its purpose. This is quality control being applied by the site owner.

A website should not be different to any other product you buy from a manufacturer

Would you spend even $50 on a new product and not expect to get a guarantee? Then why spend $500 on a website and not get a guarantee. Not only do website owners buy a website without getting a guarantee but they also don’t bother to really check or evaluate what they just bought.

I strongly advise you to carry out you own web page evaluation or website evaluation which you can do by downloading one or both of our checklists from website checklists

Tony Simpson provides website optimization, conversion improvement and web business advice to site owners. To find out about the changes you need to make to improve your website that he guarantees to produce results, visit website audit experts


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