How Do You Evaluate a Website?

August 14th, 2009

I have two clients currently (three if I count myself) who are asking the question: “How do I evaluate the essential quality of my website?”

There are no shortage of metrics. Many look to the pretty good free service of Google Analytics. There are a ton of supplementary alternatives. I’m currently a subscriber to Visistat, recommended by my webmeister.

Of course the term “quality” is extremely loaded. What does that term mean to you? To me it just means “effectiveness.” Is my website performing in the way that I wish it would, drawing the maximum number of visitors, and bringing folks back after they’ve visited the first time? There are no shortage of additional metrics that comprise a successful site, but let’s start there.

As I investigated the subject I encountered the term “Web Experience Management.”

It’s not widely-used, but that doesn’t matter to me: I like it.

We can talk about “information architecture,” or go simple and discuss “stickiness,” but I feel strongly that the current discussion and definition surrounding the REAL value of any site lacks a holistic approach.

Web Experience Management (of course shortend to “WEM”), does take a broad view of the users’ entire engagement with the site. And that’s what matters. How many unique visitors per day is fascinating and gratifying, return visitors matter greatly, pages visited are key, but we need to find a publishing metric for the entire experience at a website, jsut as we need book reviews for fascinating first novels.

I’ll be writing much more about this is the months ahead, but just wanted to offer a heads up.