Recently, MECLABS Institute, parent company of MarketingExperiments, distributed an internal survey to find out what elements or factors people consider when evaluating a website for the following attributes:
- Appearance of the website
- Clarity of the information provided
- Timeliness of completing purchase
- Ease of placing an order or making account changes on the site
- Ease of navigating the website
To do this, the team that distributed the survey asked five open questions and allowed responders to answer them as they chose. After each question, they asked the responders to rank their top three factors or elements that correlated with the question asked.
In total, there were 13 anonymous responders that the team estimated were almost evenly split between MECLABS’ content production team and our services department, which actively builds, tests and evaluates websites on a daily basis.
After the distribution team received the results, they looked at the most commonly mentioned element or function and determined which elements are the most important when reviewing a website.
They took the results and used a word cloud to visually represent the answers. To that end, the three most commonly mentioned factors on the whole survey were:
When looking at the totality of a website, people want information that is clear and easy to understand while allowing them to see the value of the website and its services.
In order to find out the important elements or factors that affect the evaluation of a webpage, the distribution team asked the following questions and received the following answers.
Note: The answers to each of the following survey questions have been broken into categories. These categories were not part of the survey’s original questions but are themes determined by the distribution team in order to organize the results.
Also, the question and answers concerned with layout (located under “Appearance of the website”) are different than the category layout. The question and answers refer to the layout of a webpage as a whole, whereas the layout category refers to the layout of that specific element of a website.
Appearance of the website
What factors or elements do you consider when judging the appearance of a website?
- Whitespace, visual spacing of elements, balanced elements, minimalistic, simplicity, organization of information, clear eye path, easily scannable
- Clear funnel, easy to find what I’m looking for, clean navigation, thought sequence
- Value, clarity, typos, readability, clear and concise copy, clarity of message
- Color, real versus stock images, pleasing to the eye, aesthetically pleasing, datedness, modern
- Functionality, up-to-date framework
The most common factor when determining the appearance of a website is its layout. It’s important to balance visual elements with the whitespace of the webpage to create a clear eye path that directs you into the elements you really want people to spend more time viewing.
Layout was the most commonly used term when answering this question, but another equally important factor mentioned by the responders was how dated versus how modern a website is.
You can have a great layout, but if it doesn’t age well, it will negatively affect the overall feel of your website. Be sure to talk with your designers about new design trends and which ones you should incorporate into your webpage.
Clarity of information provided
What factors or elements do you consider when judging the clarity of information on a website?
- Easy to read, language used, confusing words, voice, language that is easy to understand
- Size and spacing, proper use of spacing, format and layout of text, presentation of content, aesthetically pleasing, organization of content, images and illustrations to understand complex information
- Syntax and grammar, credibility, evidentials, quantification
Amount of content/Flow of content
- Amount of detail, value, brevity, relevancy, simplicity, scannability, clear headlines/sub headlines and supporting content, bold messaging/hierarchy of content
The most common factor in determining the clarity of information on a website is (no surprise here) content.
One responder stated:
Is the content legible and easy to read? If we don’t have this, then internalizing that information will be much more difficult. Typography choices can affect this significantly. Serif fonts are better on the eyes for large blocks of text versus titles, for example. If the material is dense, is it digestible through use of appropriate headings and sub headings? Voice is also important. Generally speaking, a message that can be conveyed in few words is better than more as well.