CONTENT - Content is the information provided on the site. It's not simply text, but music, sound, animation, or video – anything that communicates a site’s body of information. Good content should be engaging, relevant, and appropriate for the audience; you'll be able to tell the content has been developed for online because it’s clear and compact and it works within the medium.
- Is the content well written and clear?
- Is the tone appropriate for the website’s target market?
- Is the content informative?
- Is the content original or unusually engaging?
- Is the website free of spelling or grammar errors, out-of-date or obviously inaccurate content?
- Are appropriate policies included and easy to understand? (e.g. Customer Satisfaction Guarantee, Returns, Security, Privacy, Copyright)
USABILITY - Is the content structured to help the target market find information easily (headings, navigability)? Do pages load in good time? Is page performance optimized? Is the content markup appropriate (not the code but headings, paragraphs etc)? Is there a site map or search facilities where appropriate? How is the user experience on different platforms? Is there a smooth purchase experience? (If applicable) Is the shopping catalogue easy to browse or search? (If applicable) How easy is it to create an account for the website? (If applicable) Is the checkout process uncomplicated and easy to use? (If applicable) Does the website function as expected; does everything work?
STRUCTURE AND NAVIGATION - Structure and navigation refers to the framework of a site, the organization of content, the prioritization of information, and the method in which you move through the site. Sites with good structure and navigation are consistent, intuitive, and transparent. Good navigation gets you where you want to go quickly and offers easy access to the breadth and depth of the site’s content and informs you of what to expect when you click.
FUNCTIONALITY - Functionality is the use of technology on the site. Good functionality means the site works well. It loads quickly, has live links, and any new technology used is functional and relevant for the intended audience. The site should work cross-platform and be browser independent. Highly functional sites anticipate the diversity of user requirements from file size and format to download speed. The most functional sites also take into consideration those with special access needs. Good functionality makes the experience center stage and the technology invisible.
VISUAL DESIGN - Visual design is the appearance of the site. It’s more than just a pretty homepage, and it doesn’t have to be cutting edge or trendy. Good visual design is high quality, appropriate, and relevant for the audience and the message it is supporting.
- Is the content markup appropriate (not the code but headings, paragraphs etc)?
- Are the visuals appropriate for the target market? Do they project the image wanted by the client?
- Do the visuals enhance what the site is trying to communicate?
- Are the branding and styling consistent across the site and across different platforms, e.g. mobile, tablet?
- Are there innovative visual elements or typography that don't adversely impact readability
- Does the website display consistently in widely used web browsers? (Chrome, Safari, Explorer, Firefox)
OVERALL EXPERIENCE - Websites being more than the sum of their parts, the overall experience encompasses content, visual design, functionality, usability, as well as structure and navigation, but it also includes the intangibles that make one stay or leave. One has probably had a good overall experience if (s)he comes back regularly, places a bookmark, signs up for a newsletter, participates, emails the site to a friend, or is intrigued enough to stay for a while.