Most, even software companies don't bother themselves with creating their business homepage. No wonder, that there are a ton of web-agencies out there. But ever asked yourself, how you could possibly evaluate the quality of their work? This guide is some sort of a checklist for your own business.
1. What most web agencies won't tell you
Just imagine yourself buying whisky in the supermarket. Wouldn't you at least try to check the quality of it? I think you would, because you are about to pay for it. In my experience however, many companies don't check the website they've paid for, because they either don't know how or are not aware that a website should have more than just a shiny design.
Let's get back to the whisky example. You can't try the whisky before buying it (at least in most stores), which makes it necessary to evaluate its quality beforehand based on other aspects such as the manufacturers trademark, the price, packaging, online recommendations, color, age, country of origin, odour, etc. Thus, a nice packaging makes the whisky certainly more attractive for buyers, but it won't be a bestseller in the long run if the quality of the actual product doesn't meet the buyers' expectations.
The same basically applies to websites. You just don't know how your website is perceived by exactly that audience you want to address which are most of the time people who don't know much about your company (potential applicants/customers,..). Thefore, a good web-design is necessary and helps to attract more visitors to your site, but they will close the browser tab faster than you can imagine if you don't provide interesting and well-elaborated content on your website. Moreover, how are potential customers or applicants supposed to find your online-presence, if your website is not optimized for search-engines (= SEO, Search-Engine-Optimization)? In general, good web agencies do most of the things listed here without being asked to do so. That being said, I've added a short checklist below to get you started.
2. What to check?
Please note that this list is just to get you started and shouldn't be considered an exhaustive list. Moreover, many of the points below are related to each other but I considered them important enough to give them an own checkbox.
Is your website responsive? In a mobile world a website needs to be usable, fast and clear on a variety of devices such as smartphones, desktop devices and don't forget about tablets. This also means to hide, move or collapse several elements on your site. Please note, that a bad responsiveness can also have a negative impact on your visibility on several search-engines such as Google.
Check your SEO rating SEO stands for Search-Engine-Optimization and is one of the most important aspects when creating new websites as it greatly improves the probability to appear on top of e.g. Google's search results. Interestingly, it is also one of the most neglected points. There are free tools out there, which do some simple SEO checks for you (which is enough in most cases), such as Seobility and Seorch.
Too much animations I love animations too, at least as a developer. Having too much animations (e.g. falling snowflakes all over the page, custom mouse cursors, GIFs, blinking or other noisy animations) will confuse your visitors without any doubt. Don't get me wrong here, some smooth animations such as transitory effects are fine and improve the overall user experience, but know your metes and bounds.
Non-optimized media Media like images, videos and even sound-files can be huge. Which is not necessarily a problem on your machine, will occupy your visitors' bandwidth or even mitigate user experience. As most websites display a lot of images, you should check how much time it takes your browser to download them (take a look into the network tab of your browser developer tools). Every image can be minimized. First of all, check where your images are being used and if the size of the original image matches. In most cases your original images are way too big considering where they are used; e.g. company logo is 4098x4098px on your server, but displayed on your website as 500x500px at maximum (e.g. desktop device). You can resize your images without degrading the quality on Picresize. Additionally, you should optimize the quality of your images itself (e.g. amount of colors used, pixel density, ..). In my experience Image-Compressor does a great job while retaining a great image-quality.
Spelling I hope you don't find too many grammatical or spelling errors on our website, because they can drastically decrease user-experience and have the potential to make you look less professional.
Avoid Autoplay I think most people already know this, but I think this list wouldn't be complete without it. Do not autoplay videos or sounds on your website except the main purpose of that (sub-)page is to play that media. Moreover, even autoplaying videos without sound (e.g. as background video) can be considered a bad practice as this can drastically increase page-load times and eat up the visitors' bandwidth (esp. problematic on mobile devices).
General Usability Do not underestimate the power of usability. Most web-agencies don't have usability experts that's why you might encounter several issues related to this point. Just some basic examples to get you started.
Too much choices; Keep it simple and remove unnecessary buttons, options etc.
Don't try to be different; Position common objects (e.g. logos, navigation, breadcrumbs, ..) where a user expects them to be.
Colors are expensive; Do not use too much colors. Grey is one of the most important colors in the web as it helps you to draw attention to the truly important parts of your website.
Dismiss automatically; I see this a lot. If you are using backdrops (black-transparent background when nav or modal is opened) then please dismiss the opened window when the user clicks on the backdrop itself. Do not force them to click on your tiny 'x'.
Don't make me think; I ensure you, that visitors will leave your page as soon as they need to think. Provide simple processes, avoid too deep hierarchies, keep everything as simple as it can be.
Does your website contain Flash elements? Flash is deprecated and won't be maintained by Adobe. Moreover, outdouted flash plugins can be a security risk to your users. Furthermore, Flash is quite slow and incompatible with mobile devices and non-general purpose devices such as Smart TVs etc.
3. German Livestream
German video about evaluating a website's quality on your own. We offer professional websites analyses for just 175 € (less than 10 pages). Contact us today for a free initial consultation call via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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