Website Reviews

Doing website reviews can be fun and it can even be easy. I usually find it helps to sit back with a glass of cab sav in one hand and a cheese biscuit in the other, and start by summing up the website after you have had a good look through it…
Introduction
Grab your reader’s attention by outlining an interesting aspect of the site. This can be about the function of the website, a bit about the history or what first attracted /repulsed you when you saw it and why.
Example:
“As soon as I saw the mouthwatering chocolate cake image on the Hillington’s website, I felt like dashing down to the supermarket with the internet recipe.”
Next, make a general statement regarding the overall position of the website in the online community.
Example:
“Sportz is a small retail website primarily targeted to people who play tennis or go white water rafting. Since this encompasses 20% of the Geocities online community, the website fits very well in the Geocities family.”
Branding
If you know what a logo is, then you have probably seen branding millions of times.
When I was doing web reviews, I found most websites are lacking in brand. Branding is a way of designing that means you can tell which company/organisation it is just by looking briefly at the item. It helps to think of “corporate branding” where you can recognise McDonalds just by seeing the certain golden “M”. Over time, customers come to recognise an organisation’s logo and colours. A website may have a logo, matching corporate colours and even a matching font. If a logo and the other website colours clash, they are not branded and will NOT help people to identify with the company. Successful websites have the logo and website matching in a skilful and attractive manner (such as an orange and navy blue logo having a white and navy blue background).
There is one example in sitecritic.net that shows a website that needs branding.
Navigation/Loading Time
Is the website easy or hard to navigate?
You can discover this when you first look at the website and see if it is easy to find the buttons that allow you to move from page to page.
Are the menus or lists easy to read and find?
Does the website flow from left to right (as the English language does) or if it doesn’t, is it still effective and readable?
Does the website load up quickly or not?
(Usually, slow loading websites annoy readers and can be the result of big images that have not been optimised properly for the internet.
Slow loading can also be due to Flash or large bits of code that have not been simplified. )
Is the website simple looking or complicated?
(This can add to problems finding the right buttons to press and hence, problems navigating)
Design
Does the website look like another website you have seen, or does it have its own personal flavour?
(Some websites can look similar because they use the same advertising or design. The really good websites have a unique appearance that does not use a lot of advertising. The excellent websites are the ones you remember with fondness).
What is the first thing you see when you look at the page?
(For example, a website might have a faint background and a bright logo. This means that the logo is meant to stand out and be remembered. )
What parts of the design help/hinder the message?
(For example, too much advertising can turn a reader off before they have even read the important bits)
Is the design suited to what the website is meant to be doing?
(For example, a website devoted to skiing would not look good in pink)
Coding & Programming
It helps if you are able to give a very brief description of the type of coding that may have been used to design the website (eg, HTML, Javascript, Flash, PHP, databases or shopping carts, etc) A mention of additional technical design may give more depth to the review (such as whether the frames displayed all the information correctly etc). However, if you don’t know much about coding, you can always skip this subject.
Conclusion
Do you think the website is successful/unsuccessful and why?
Do you think the website is targeted to the right audience?
(eg, if it is meant to be for children, does it look like a children’s website? )
Would you recommend the someone else to review the website?
What would make you revisit the website?
What rating would you give the website?
A terrific conclusion always ends with a humorous comment.
Example:
“This website is so thrilling, so coated with stars and glitter, that if Elvis was alive I don’t doubt he would be scribbling his lyrics in the forums with his fans right now! “
OR
“This website is so bad that if it were printed I would use the back of it to write my shopping list on..”

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