Audience Dialogue

Measuring the effectiveness of websites

Details of Audience Dialogue’s 9-stage model for measuring website effectiveness

Stage

Description

Measure

Source

1.
Awareness
Potential users know site exists and can remember its name correctly % awareness (both aided and unaided) Offline survey of target audience, using funnelled recall techniques
2.
Findability
Ability to find site/page from search engines and directories using potential audience’s most common search terms (including misspellings) Ranking of site and key pages in main search engines on the target audience’s most common terms (as with search engine optimization) Search results from search engines commonly used by target audience
3.
Availability
Uptime of site/page.
Lack of dead links — both within site and from other sites. (If another site makes a link to your site, and that link is broken, the problem is yours)
% of time site is up.
% of time server is overloaded.
% of links (both internal and external) that are dead or wrong
Site logs
+
link-checking software (e.g. Xenu)
4.
Popularity
Numbers of visitors and visits to the site Visitor data for this and competing sites.
Monitor trend in visitors as proportion of target audience.
% of purchases abandoned
Site popularity data (from syndicated services)
+
Site logs, using cookies to identify unique visitors and target audience members
5.
Accessibility

Ability of impaired users, impaired computers, and impaired environments to read pages on site

Heuristic analysis on a wide range of browsers, platforms, and screen settings Accessibility testing software, e.g PC Bobby (watchfire.com)
6.
Usability
Navigation within site; enabling performance of user tasks Measure success rate, time taken, and satisfaction Usability test with target audience
7.
Trust
Willingness to interact with site Triadic comparison of test site with 2 similar sites, one nominated by the user and the other from 2 sites nominated by the client Survey of target audience
8.
Fulfilment
Supplying what the site implies it will. Response time and rate to email inquiries and online purchases - compare with information provided on site’s pages Mystery shopping methodology
+
local site
9.
Reputation
Enhancing the reputation of the organization that owns the site If the site is effective, its reputation will rise with detailed knowledge of the site (other things remaining equal) Survey target audience, e.g. matched pairs of users and non-users

The above table considers only output measures, most of which could come from a small survey of the website’s target audience. To complement this, a broader concept would also include measures of efficiency: not just maximizing outputs, but also minimizing inputs. Input measures include

The most efficient sites will produce maximum output for minimum input.