How to Review a Website


Image by alancleaver_2000 via Flickr

When  you’re putting together your new web site, or even just a new landing page, there are several things you should review on your site before you hit “publish.”

You want your visitors to know exactly what you sell, how you help them, and what they need to do to buy your product (or services).

If they are confused, or can’t read your site – they’ll leave (this means no sales and a high bounce rate – no good).

So, here’s a quick website review checklist

1. Is your website hard to read?

What color is the background?  A dark background with light type may look slick but it’s really hard on the eyes.  Try to keep it to a minimum (if at all). Also check the font size.  Small type can be difficult (especially if your audience is older).

2. How is it formatted?

Are there big blocks of type?  Do  you have subheads (to break up the text)?  How much space (leading, back in the day)  is there between the lines? The rule of thumb is roughly 10% more than the size of the type.  So, roughly 14 pixels between lines for 12 pixel type.  Have you centered a lot of text (this also makes it harder to read).

3. Is your website confusing?

Is it immediately clear what your site is about?  Whether you’re selling something? Or just giving information?  Have you had someone else look at it?

4. Have you asked for the sale?

Assuming you are selling something, have you asked people to buy?  For example, is there a big shiny, call to action button? Did you ask more than once?

5. Are you using a landing page?

Where are you sending people?  Did you create a landing page or are you using your home page to make sales?

6. Have you cross-checked browsers?

The same page can look different depending on which browser your visitor is using.  Internet Explorer in particular is notorious for fouling up code.  Run a check with browsershots (or make sure your developer does) to make sure your site looks right in the major browsers.

Want a more in-depth checklist, and step by step instructions for reviewing your website?  Click here.

Is your Website a Marketing Fail?

website review sticky note imageYesterday, Rex wanted to know my opinion of Mission Control. You can see the site in a separate window here. It’s not NASA (luckily), it’s a corporate web site.

So, I went off to take a look.

Web design, graphics, and navigation OK

Not too bad, though I would prefer a “real” photo, rather than a stock image, and I think the blurry image is distracting (I keep trying to focus on something that’s impossible to see clearly, and it makes my eyes hurt). A few other nits about type color (headings could be darker, and not enough contrast on some navigation buttons), but otherwise, fairly clean design, with lots of white space.

Marketing message failure

The benefits and results they claim to get are so vague they’re useless. What does “Translating broad initiatives and objectives into those exact actions that will fulfill those initiatives and objectives” mean? It’s completely circular.

How about:

  • cut product development time by 42%
  • reduced employee turnover by 27%, saving $500,000 in recruitment costs

Poor customer focus

I ran it through the we-we calculator. It came up with a customer focus score of 10% (out of 100).

That means they talk about themselves nine times as much as they talk about the customer. There’s quite a bit about what they do, but very little about what I would get if I hired them. What headache do they stop ? What sort of aspirin do they have?

They seem to provide some sort of services to improve teamwork and productivity, but it’s hard to tell. Do they save me money? How? Do they reduce employee turnover?

Gobbledygook test failure

The first sentence on the home page says, ” Are the things you’re doing the most effective ‘doings’ to accomplish what’s of critical importance to the organization?”

They’ve made up words (doings?) for no reason. Why not say tasks instead?

Further along it says, “Mission control provides actionable access to determining and doing the most effective ‘doings’ that impact and elevate organizational performance.”

Seems they’ve fallen straight down the gobbledygook rabbit hole.

They’re not really telling me what they do. What’s actionable access anyway?

Then it says they create “Precision instruments..acting in alignment to produce their part of the mission critical results” Sounds more like machines in a factory than people.

The grammar is poor, and the writing is clunky, “An executive is left asking themself.”

And, the press releases haven’t been updated since 2003.

What the???

I noticed a copyright notice on their site. It says that their copyrighted terms include “Agenda”, “Now”, and “Transparent.” Huh?

If I wasn’t looking at the site for this post, I would have run away screaming after a few seconds.

If they were my client, I would recommend that they tweak the design slightly, and completely rewrite the text to make it clearer what their services are, focus more on the customer, and emphasize real benefits. No HR person alive wakes up in the morning and says, “I want my staff to be precision instruments acting in alignment.” They might think, “I wish my staff cooperated more.” That’s a real concern, which a company such as Mission Control might be able to solve.

What do you think? And, Rex, why and how did you pick this company in the first place?