Brand assessment and website review involve thorough analyses of a brand’s digital footprint. There are many different ways to perform a website review. Many reviewers are subjective about what is important. Here are my 5 most important categories when reviewing a website:
The site map and content organization are probably the least respected category in a website review. Conventionally, site maps and content are executed through the eyes of a business’s stakeholders, not the intended audience. It’s important to understand your audience through analytics and personas before executing an effective site map. Another important element is to keep it simple. On average, about 50% of internet users browse using a smart phone. It’s unlikely they are using traditional navigation to click around your site. They are more likely to be scrolling and clicking on content to get from point A to point B.
This category is a close cousin of Information Architecture, because it also relies heavily on analytics and audience. The User Experience portion of website review focuses on whether your site is being viewed from mobile or desktop. I also look at what pages get the most attention, so I can highlight them better on the home page.
Ahh, the fun stuff in a website review! The pretty visuals get critiqued. Since digital is such a visual medium, it’s important to look at every image and video and make sure they do what they’re supposed to do. And what should visuals do? Encourage engagement; tell a story; establish a visual style and mood; carry the message. They also need to be properly formatted and sized. Effective photography and compelling imagery will elevate a brand’s identity and improve search results and digital positioning.
This is the website review category I find to be most overlooked. Most websites and brands think it’s okay just to have their social media icons and a phone number on their site. It extends way beyond that, though. In my review I typically look at:
- Is the phone number visible and clickable?
- Is there an online chat?
- If so, is it responsive? (this is important for recovery centers)
- Is the email sign-up fast?
- Does the brand send an immediate welcome email to keep the communications top of mind?
- Is the brand promoting their social feeds with fresh content through posts or blogs?
In this last category of website review, I make sure that any apparent bugs are brought to light. Basically I click on every link I find and follow every navigation thread. I try to break the site. For example, home page carousels may operate awkwardly, not be clickable, or they might move too fast. Also, it’s common to discover dead links and broken actions in a site. Sometimes data capture forms don’t work the way they should. Nothing will drive visitors away faster, especially mobile visitors, than a site that doesn’t work.