When opening a new website, I asses it by 5 major characteristics – appearance, content, functionality, website usability and, the least obvious, optimization. The appearance of the website is the first thing giving a major impression over its topic, main target and general message it spreads.
In my personal opinion, it should be neat, clean and comprehensible. Content of the website is the mean of transferring information to the mass, its core value and reason of visiting, therefore, it should be kept short and simple, giving all the necessary meaning in lesser amount of words. Functionality allows the visitor to navigate in a search of needed content, so it should also be simple and clear, easily comprehensible for the first-time visitor. Usability shows the friendliness of the website to its visitors, meaning short scrolling, fast-loading pages and browser compatibility. And the least obvious part, optimization stands for perception of the website by search engines.
A remark should be made here, that in the run for the search engine rankings, owners of the websites may neglect the stated above characteristics and modify the website to acquire high rank, but lower the possibility of first positive impression from the website. By saying so I mean adding hidden text, overloading content with keywords or adding unnecessary big amount of external and internal links.
When analyzing the given website, the first look should be devoted to the history of the website and its description, time of loading, authority and trustworthy in “the eyes” of the search engines, amount of the indexed pages, amount of outer links to the website as well as amount of the referrals from social networks, etc. All of those indicators are easily obtainable online and are widely used for the assessment of competitors’ websites.
One of the things to look at is the history of the website. It starts from careful choosing and obtaining the domain name. It is easy to check the date and the time of the creation, as the general information about the domain is public and easy obtainable through the Internet.
Though speed of the modern Internet allows not paying attention to the overall “weight” of the webpage, or graphics in particular, anymore, it is however still important to pay attention to the loading speed of the website. For the estimation of the loading time I have used the Internet connection provided on Vinarska Halls of Residence by “99 Voice and Data Services”1; the Aneta system website2 claims the speed of Internet to vary with 100Mbit at most.
The other easy obtainable online indicator is the website ranking among the other portals in the search results. For example, Google PR is one of the algorithms of page ranking. Every page is being assigned a numbered indicator, showing the “importance” of the webpage in comparison to others. The more links from other “authoritative” resources the website has, the better, the higher the PR ranking is. The number of the assigned ranking can vary from 0 to 10, but the exact meaning and the algorithms of the calculation is not spread by Google.
But not all of the pages of the website may be taken to the search engine index due to various, sometimes not stated, reasons. Therefore, the amount of indexed pages indicator shows how many pages are taken into account by Google bots. It does not reveal as much information as other indicators, but just might indicate the problem with search engine filtering pages with not unique content, for example.
Links and referrals are also connected to the “trustworthy” of the website – the more links from big and frequently updated portals with unique information, the better. This includes referrals from social media websites, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google , and LiveJournal. If the information on the website goes viral, it is possible to spot it through a rapid increase of external links and referrals.
When creating a website, one can request a creation of the custom content management system or chose the most suitable for the purposes of the website available online systems, like WordPress, Drupal or Joomla. Popular and user-friendly systems usually provide the owner of the website with statistics that helps to evaluate performance.
In the case an owner wants to use the external system for analysis, he or she can turn to online services such as Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a service provided by Google Inc. to help website owners to measuring sales and conversions, to track how visitors see and use the website, or to see where did they come from and what they are searching for. Due to the powerful reporting system, Google Analytics gives a webmaster the ability to view information in the default mode or customized reports to get only the information the webmaster needs.
The reporting system gives an insight of which parts of the website are performing well and achieving the set goals, for providing the best experience for the visitors. The new feature that was introduced recently allows tracking success of social media promotion as well, through monitoring the behavior of the visitors with social networks sharing buttons. So, as it is clearly seen, Google Analytics can provide some valuable insights to the performance of the website and revealing its potential.
First step to the online promotion is building a successful website which is easy to use, which meets visitors’ expectations and communicates visually. To do that nine basic steps should be taken: planning, conducting groundwork, launching the project, developing databases, designing and programming, creating content, testing prototype, launching the website and monitoring success. Every visitor is assessing the website according to his or her expectations and the overall satisfaction is determined by five basic elements: appearance, content, functionality, usability and optimization. Users of the website are not the only one assessing its performance, there are also rankings provided by search engines based on the previously determined trustworthy of the website. To statistically analyze performance of the website one can use already built it the content management system statistics or refer to the outer services like Google Analytics.