Who are you, and what do you do?
When looking at your website’s home page, can a visitor easily understand who you are and what you do? Remember that the web is a visual medium, and people are impatient to find what they are looking for. They will likely spend just a few seconds scanning your homepage to determine if it is worth staying on your site or clicking away.
Is your language accessible and your text concise? Try, as much as possible, to avoid using jargon and buzzwords that most people will not understand.
Ask people who do not work for your organisation to look at your homepage for a few minutes, and then tell you what your organisation is about. How close is their interpretation to what you actually do?
Why do you have a website?
What is the purpose of your website? Are you using it for advocacy, rights education, or media relations? Are you hoping to raise funds or build a network of volunteers? Your website likely has multiple goals and audiences.
Once you have defined the primary goals of your website, you can determine if your website is structured to support these goals. For example, if your site is being used for advocacy, you would want to include some important facts and figures about your cause on the front page, to entice people to learn more.
For media relations, you would include profiles of your spokespeople with contact information, and copies of all your media releases.
For fundraising you would include not only a donate button, but a page that outlines what you do, highlights some successes stories, and an explanation of how donated funds can impact your cause. (For more information on the Case for Support, click here to watch our video).
Run through the site role-playing different audience groups, and see if the site is manages to engage each group. For example, imagine that you are a journalist, and work through your site from your front page. How long does it take to find relevant information? Then imagine you are a potential donor. Does your site inspire you to donate funds?
Does the website represent your brand?
Your brand is more than your logo and set colours. Your brand is the personality of the organisation. Is your website fresh and vibrant? It is conservative and formal? When you look at your website, before even reading the content, does the website feel appropriate for your organisation? Does your staff like your website? While it is often difficult to obtain consensus particularly from a large staff, there should be a general buy-in and support of your website from your staff. If your website does not engage the people closest to the work you do, it is unlikely that it will engage people outside of your organisation.
Additional Resource: Have a look at this Website Evaluation Checklist to help you assess how effective your website is.