A website is a vital part of a company. Akincilar & Dagdeviren (2014) shows that it not only provides a way to generate revenue and draw in customers, but also allows for the promotion of products and services. Every website differs, such as the people it is aimed at, the pictures and information they provide, and the design. So, when evaluating how effective one is, what should be considered? This blog will provide you with five useful aspects to look at.
1. Is the website easy to use?
Qu, Guo and Duffy (2017) state that measuring usability means looking at the degree to which a website can help the customer achieve their purposes efficiently. Ellis et al (1998, cited in Gu, Guo and Duffy, 2017) show that some of the main performance indexes in a usability test involve the task success rate, duration of task accomplishment, and tracking of eye movements. It is important to test that the consumers do not spend too long looking for what they need. Some key points are:
- Loading time– Does the company have any links or images that take a long time to load? This is important to retain people on the website- some people may click off if they have to wait!
- Automatic navigation tabs– Do the headings come up automatically when scrolling your mouse over the navigation tabs? For instance, when hovering the mouse over the tab ‘about us’ on the Brighton Business School website, no other sub headings come up. On the L’Oreal website, a list of makeup comes up without having to click a different link. This could make it easier to navigate- making it a more effective website. Images from Brighton Business school (2017) and L’Oreal (2017)
- Is it easy to find what you are looking for? (University of Leicester, 2017). Being able to locate the information needed quickly would show a better designed website.
2. Has the purpose of the website been met?
- Clear intended audience– Can you easily discover this? Such as adults, teenagers, women, men?
- Easily identifiable purpose– Is it to persuade, inform, etc.? Being able to locate both this and the point above would suggest the company has carefully taken into consideration their customers needs in the design of their website.
- Can the customers meet their needs and wants?
(Dalhousie University, 2017) and Newbold (2014).
3. Has the website been well designed?
It is important that the website does not have an off putting appearance in order for it to be effective. Kenwright (2014) shows an example of a poorly designed one (see image to the right). The colours are highly contrasting, and there are no navigation tabs. An unattractive design could even cause the customer to leave the site. The following points below show what needs to be thought about when auditing if the appearance has been considered:
- Easily readable text– If people cannot read the content, they will not be able to find what they need!
- Does the website have a good visual appeal?
- Is the site cluttered with unnecessary information?
- Is the most important information clear? Hernandez & Resnick (2013) is a useful study to look at for this. By tracking your eye movements, it can show whether you missed any of the content. This then shows how effectively placed it is. The rest of the journal article can be viewed here: http://journals.sagepub.com.ezproxy.brighton.ac.uk/doi/pdf/10.1177/1541931213571232
4. Is the site reliable?
Olsina et all (1999, cited in Bauer & Scharl, 2000) provides a useful list of criteria that should be assessed when evaluating the effectiveness. One of these is reliability. This is important because if the website has aspects that do not function properly, the customers may not be able to achieve their purpose for visiting the website.
- Are there any dangling, invalid and/or unimplemented links?
- When searching for information, do any search errors occur?
- Does using different web browsers affect the viewing of the website? For instance, is there any missing features when switching between Safari, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer etc.?
5. Is the website up to date?
- Identifiable creation date– When was the information written? (Bluford Library, 2017).
- Frequent updates– This is important- for instance, seeing an amazing item of clothing then discovering it is actually out of stock is not what you want to see!
Overall, these 5 aspects will be helpful when evaluating the success of a website. To put this into perspective through an academic model, ‘Serve’ from Chaffey’s 5S’s can be used. The use of this can help identify whether the website has added value by improving the customer experience (Smith & Chaffey, 2002). This would show initiative taken by the company to provide extra features to help the consumers meet their needs. For instance, by having reduced loading times, customer support and software that can be downloaded (Epellé, 2016; Prideaux, 2017). So, hopefully these points will help you to discover whether the company has created an effective website!
These are some useful links/videos that provide further information:
VCU Libraries (2017)
More information regarding the purpose:
Akincilar, A. & Dagdeviren, M. (2014) A hybrid multi-criteria decision making model to evaluate hotel websites. International journal of hospitality management. Vol. 36, p263-271.
Bauer, C. & Scharl, A. (2000) Quantitative evaluation of Web site content and structure. Internet Research. Vol. 10, No. 1, p31-44.
Bluford Library (2017) ‘Evaluating Web Resources’. [Online] <http://libguides.library.ncat.edu/content.php?pid=53820&sid=394505> [Accessed 28th November 2017]
Dalhousie University (2017) ‘6 Criteria for Websites’. [Online] <https://cdn.dal.ca/content/dam/dalhousie/pdf/library/CoreSkills/6_Criteria_for_Websites.pdf> [Accessed 16th November 2017]
Epellé, N. (2016) ‘Digital Marketing Goals That Drive Growth In Small Businesses’. [Online] <http://www.digitalgoldhq.com/digital-marketing-goals-that-drive-growth-for-small-business-owners/> [Accessed 29th November 2017]
Hernandez, A. & Resnick, M. L. (2013) Placement of Call to Action Buttons for Higher Website Conversion and Acquisition An Eye Tracking Study. In Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting. Vol. 57, No. 1, p1042-1046. SAGE Publications.
Kenwright, S. (2014) ‘Top 10 worst websites you’ll wish you hadn’t seen’. [Online] <https://www.branded3.com/blog/top-10-worst-websites/> [Accessed 30th November 2017]
L’Oreal (2017) ‘L’Oreal Paris’. [Online] <http://www.loreal-paris.co.uk/> [Accessed 27th November]
Newbold, C. (2014) ‘How to Evaluate a Website’. [Online] <http://thevisualcommunicationguy.com/2014/08/27/how-to-evaluate-a-website/> [Accessed 20th November 2017]
Open Business Council (2017) ‘What Does Your Website Say About You?’. [Online] <https://www.openbusinesscouncil.org/2017/08/what-does-your-website-say-about-you/> [Accessed 1st December 2017]
Prideaux, J. (2017) ‘Implementing the 5SS Into Your Digital Marketing Strategy’. [Online] <https://www.mysocialagency.com/implementing-5s-digital-marketing-strategy/> [Accessed 29th November 2017]
Smith, PR. & Chaffey, D. (2002) eMarketing eXcellence. London and New York: Routledge
Qu, Q.X., Guo, F. & Duffy, V.G. (2017) Effective use of human physiological metrics to
evaluate website usability: An empirical investigation from China. Aslib Journal of Information Management. Vol. 69, No. 4, p370-388
VCU Libraries (2017) Critically Evaluating Websites. [Video] YouTube. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBnlIA4x1Xk> [Accessed 26th November 2017]
University of Brighton (2017) ‘Brighton Business School’. [Online] <https://www.brighton.ac.uk/bbs/index.aspx> [Accessed 27th November 2017]
University of Leicester (2017) ‘Evaluating websites‘. [Online] <https://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/ld/resources/study/eval-web> [Accessed 16th November 2017]