When I do my Web Usability and Design Analysis on websites I look at thirty-five different items. Four of those items are done by using automated test that anyone can do online for free. This post is about those four tests. It’s also about an even more powerful tool that I use on a daily basis in analyzing sites.
Testing Total Load Time
So the first automated test that I run is the the download speed. How long does it take your site to display? This is an important issue when it comes to your website, and the faster your site loads the better the chance you have in keeping those new visitors. On my analysis I grade using a Poor, Fair, or Excellent standard. Fair is 7.5 to 2.5 seconds, and Excellent is anything under.
The site I use is Pingdom. I like Pindgom because they track previous sessions, and additionally display load time for all of your objects, including external ones.
Test Keyword Rank
The next thing I do is check the keyword list in the meta tags. Very often webmasters pick incredibly poor keywords. They use terms like “money” or “free”. Those may be accurate keywords, but it’s difficult to rank well with those. In my analysis I do offer some written advice for this part, but I finalize it with the automated results.
What I do is check to see if the analyzed keywords make the top thirty results in three popular search engines. Now a days it’s probably better to be in the top three, but it helps to know your current status in comparing to previous test runs.
The online tool I use is Rank Checker. Simply type in your keyword, your domain, a competitor if you want, and it shows you how your keyword did using the results from Google, Yahoo, and Live.
The last two automated tests that I do, and are also the last two items in the analysis is the validation of code. Hopefully many of you already know about these links, but if don’t, it’s time to start learning. When doing the analysis,I check using W3C’s HTML Validator and their CSS Validator.
Making sure you code is correct has many benefits. The first is error detection. If you keep a well coded site that is free of errors, and something suddenly doesn’t work due to a few changes you made, a simple validation can very often point to the error. Another benefit is that it can often improve accessibility. I’m sure most of of design for the largest audience, but sometimes it just hard to accomidate everyone. Sticking to W3C’s standards will help improve you odds because browser manufactures are taking W3C’s standards into consideration as well. A third benefit is improved search engine rankings. Your layout and text placement may not be as you expected if you forgot to close a table or div tag.
When running the HTML Validator make sure you click the “More Options” value and then click “Outline”. This is my favorite test showing the basic outline of your site. If you don’t see one, you have heading tag errors, and it’s time to get to work. See my Heading Tag – How To post. This could also be one of your biggest SEO influencers.
The Best Tool for Web Developers
If you build websites, or test them the way I do, here is probably the most essential tool you could ever have. The Web Developer Toolbar. This toolbar works in Firefox and IE, and does a ton of stuff. Easily: validate code, show outlines, view source, view css files, get form information, image information, see active elements, the list goes on and on. This is most certainly one of my favorite tools to use, and even used it a few times writing this post!
Hope this information helps, and if you want to get my full on analysis that includes those four test plus thirty-one other items here is the link: Web Usability and Design Analysis.