Your Website Development Checklist
Here is a long and pretty detailed list of questions that a website owner should ask himself about his own website. If the answer to every question that follows below was answered with a yes, you should be very pleased with yourself and consider yourself the top of the crop because most websites have flaws for a number of different reasons, mostly related to the limitation of resources and sacrifices that must be made as a direct result of the shortage.
This 50 questions long questionnaire might trigger something here and there for some of you or maybe bring some forgotten item from the long to-do list back into your mind. In short, I am sure that the list benefits a number of different people. If you think that something is missing or not clear, let me know and leave a comment to the post in the form below.
- Is content structurally separate from navigational elements?
- Is the website cross-browser compatible?
- How compliant is the website with W3C coding standards? Valid HTML/CSS?
- Are ‘alt’ tags in place on all significant images?
- Are text-based alternatives in place to convey essential information if this is featured within images or multimedia files?
- Are links labeled with anchor text that provides a clear indication of where they lead.
- Depth – what is the maximum number of clicks it takes to reach a page within the depths of the site?
- Responsive on Click feedback – Is a response given immediately (0.1 seconds) after a click is made on a hyperlink?
- Do clickable items stylistically indicate that they are clickable?
- How intuitive is it to navigate? Are signs obvious or obscured? Buttons/Links Like Text, that are not clickable and vice versa, links/buttons that cannot be identified as such
- readability (somewhat addressed already), type face, font size
- clear statement of PURPOSE of the site? Purpose must become clear within a few seconds without reading much or no text copy at all.
- Call to action on every page, no dead ends
- Is a logical site map available?, If not, is a keyword-based search feature available? Note: Large (multi-thousands of pages) sites should have a search form.
- Is the site’s design aesthetically appealing?
- Are the colors used harmonious and logically related?
- Are the color choices visually accessible? (For example high enough in contrast to assist the colorblind and visually impaired in reading the site appropriately)
- Is the design audience appropriate?- The standard text size should be readable, for visitors who don’t know how to adjust their browsers.
- The fonts should be easily readable, and degrade gracefully.- Should look OK on various screen resolutions.
- Is the website copy succinct but informative?
- Does the copywriting style suit the website’s purpose and ‘speak’ to its target audience?
- Are bodies of text constrained to <80 characters per line?
- Can text be resized through the browser or do CSS settings restrict size alteration?
- Is the contrast between text and its background color sufficient to make reading easy on the eyes?
- Is text broken into small, readable chunks and highlighted using headings, sub-headings and emphasis features where appropriate to assist in skimming?
- Within articles, there should be links to more detailed explanations of subjects, or definitions of jargon terms. Are you doing that?
- Do you have an “about page” that identifies the author of the content, credits to source for content that was not written by the site owner himself
- Do you have testimonials and publish them on the site?
- Do you update the content regularly and don’t live by the phrase “set it and forget it”?
- Any obvious security flaws?
- How resilient are forms to special characters?
- Private directories password protected via .htaccess?
- Are public non-document directories (cgi-bin, images, etc) index able or are blank index.html pages or appropriate permission settings in place to block access?
- Is customer data stored online? If so, is this database appropriately safeguarded against external access?
Other Technical Considerations:
- Does the site load quickly – even for dialup users?
- Are all links (internal and external) valid and active?
- Are scripts free from errors?
- Is the website free from server side errors?
Other Marketing Considerations:
- Is the website properly optimized for search engines (essential text emphasized, title tags relevant, title text presented in H1, outbound links reliable and contextually related, etc)
- Does the index page entice a visitor deeper into the site or shopping cart?
- Does the website contain elements designed to encourage future or viral visitation (i.e. a contest, newsletter, tell-a-friend feature, and forum with subscription option, downloadable toolbar, RSS feed or similar)? – Different Title for every page that start (or at least have it as 2nd or 3rd word) with the single most relevant key phrase that describes the content or function of the page the best. (if you have to explain what the page is for and can only use 1-3 words as Keyword or Phrase, what would it be?)
- Robots.txt configured?
- Site Map available?
- Is every individual page only accessible via a single URL or are several URLs available (and worse, used) to access the same page? Duplicate Content Issue, Canonical URLs.
- Contact Page with Real Address, Phone Number (Toll Free for Business) and Contact Form or Email available, basically a clear and easy to use feedback/contact mechanism? A visitor might not assume webmaster@ or you might want them to write elsewhere, or you might prefer to give them a form to structure their communications.