Test your website in five steps

Who are you talking to on your website? How well are you reaching them? Are you getting some surprising feedback from your users or higher ups? Feel like you need to refresh your site but arent sure where to start?

You dont have to pay someone to test your site (although it is a really good idea to do so). You can test your website today on the cheap.

Here are some quick and easy ways to get a baseline on your site. If you want more, contact us about doing a Diagnostic to get really deep into what is going on. Always good to ask an expert.

Step 1: Define your users and their goals

Write down on a piece of paper one target user for your site. This person could be a funder or supporter, potential client, or media contact. Be specific and try to understand her needs.

Next, write down the kinds of content you think she is looking for. If shes is a funder, perhaps she wants to know more about the history of your work, your mission or who else has funded your work. If shes is a potential client, maybe she is looking for the types of products and services you provide and how much they will cost. Write all of these down and set these up as goals for all of your website users.

Now write down the actions you want this user to do: Fill out a contact form, call your office, register for an event, read a news article and share it, buy a product or donate to your organization. Usually this is a short list.

Step 2: Visually Scan your site

Now open a web browser and load your website. Close your eyes for 3 seconds and open them. Quickly scan your website in 30 seconds and close your browser. Now write down as many words as you can that can describe your experience and what you saw. More specifically:
What emotional responses does your website trigger?
What words would you use to describe this organization?
What were the first things you saw?
Did anything stick out?

Now think about your responses. Are those the same things you want users to see right away? Or do you want them to have a different experience? If theres a mismatch, we have some work to do.

Step 3: Collect information

Take that list that you made in Step 1 of things that you think your user is looking for and look at them as a set of goals. Go back to your website, and try to accomplish your users goals. Document the process. Take note of where you are finding things, how many clicks you have to make or how much time it takes. Is all the information in the right place? Are you missing anything? Are you frustrated? Looking for more? Happy? Take note of these as well. Now exit your website and review what you found.

This is where it gets a little tricky to review your own site. You know it really well, so try to be as impartial as you can. Count the clicks and try to get in your users heads as much as you can.

Step 4: Action

Load your website again, and take a look at that list of action items you made: sign up for a newsletter, donate, read, etc. Go to your homepage and top landing pages (you can figure out which these are in your analytics) and test whether or not you can get to an action in one click. Document and make note of your findings.

Step 5: Evaluate

The last step is evaluating. Pull all of your notes together and compare your lists of audiences and users, goals and actions against your findings from testing your website. Here are some questions to answer:
Does your website provide a positive impression and experience?
Does it quickly communicate your organizations tone of voice?
Were you able to collect all the information you needed to help build a knowledge base about your organization, products or services so that you can make an informed decision to act?
Were you able to follow though with an action within one click from the home page?

Tell us what you found out in your test or ask us a question by commenting on this post.

If you are still looking for some help in re-designing your site or considering someone to help you with the process, get in touch with us and Become Our Client!

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