A marketing website is at the heart of your client’s online presence. It’s prospective and returning customers interact with the brand and learn about the products or services offered. No company can survive without a presence online, which is why companies often turn to professionals like yourself to design them a website that will delight and engage users.
As you well know, a lot goes into making a website both a great experience for users and an excellent marketing tool for brands. To ensure the overall design process successfully balances both goals, you need to take the website proofing stage seriously. Before you share a new website with your client, though, you’ve got to make sure you’re presenting them with the best possible product—and that requires checking your work. Imagine sharing a website for review only to have a client have to point out to you that the menu items aren’t correct, or that you haven’t followed their style guidelines? It’s your job as a designer to account for all of these small details, even if you aren only human.
Before sending a website design to a client, it’s smart to proof your own work first. If you don’t want to run the risk of missing something during the process, we recommend using a checklist. In fact, we’ve already created a website proofing checklist that should do just the trick.
The Website Proofing Checklist Every Designer Needs
Part One: User Experience
The user experience (UX) of a website includes overall functionality and usability. To design an effective UX, you need to find the most efficient ways to meet the needs of a site’s end-users. As you check off each item in this section—and all the others, for that matter—of this website proofing checklist, make sure you’re keeping the people who will actually be using this website in mind.
- Wireframes and Flowcharts: If wireframes and/or flowcharts were created for this project, did you follow them accordingly?
- Purpose: Was the purpose of the website (and each individual page) considered during website development? Purpose could be: sign ups, demo requests, brand awareness, selling products/services, sharing information, etc.
- Scannability: Since we know users tend to scan rather than read web pages, how scannable is each page? Are the big ideas able to be communicated?
- Z-Shape Patterns: Are page elements (logos, menus, buttons, etc.) appropriately laid out to follow a user’s natural Z-shaped scanning pattern?
- Content Hierarchy: Do you utilize size, colors, contrast, and proximity to create an easy-to-follow visual hierarchy on each page?
- CTAs: Are the calls-to-action correctly placed and easily recognizable on each page? Are they directing users to take the correct actions?
- Forms: Do the forms included on the site include the correct questions and fields? Is there any form, or part of a form, missing?
Part Two: Website Interface
As a subset of UX, good user interface (UI) design enables users to complete the task they came to the website to do free of confusion and unnecessary complexities. You accomplish this by creating an aesthetically pleasing, user-friendly digital environment that promotes learnability, efficiency, memorability, accuracy, and satisfaction. As you tick off the boxes in this part of your website proofing checklist, keep these five qualities in mind. They’ll help you ensure you’re delivering the best experience possible to your users.
- Look and Feel: Did you follow well-established design principles & UX patterns?
- Homepage: Does the homepage make a good first impression and provide a high-level overview of the company? Does it introduce users to the brand and explain what the product/service offered are?
- Navigation: Are all pages that should be included in the main navigation included? Is it well-organized and clearly labeled? Do they link to the correct pages?
- Branding: Is the company’s branding (logo, tagline, mission, etc.) evident, or would a user need to search for it?
- Style Guide: If the client provided a style guide, did you follow it?
- Social media icons: if you’re including these, are they linked to the right accounts? Are they easy for a user to recognize and find?
- Buttons: Are any buttons used styled correctly and clearly recognized as buttons? Are they actually clickable?
- Links: do all the links work? Are they recognizable as links?
- Contact Info: Is contact info—including address, email, contact form, etc.—easy to find and clearly displayed?
- Favicon: Does the right favicon appear in the address bar?
- Responsiveness: Does the site work on different screens? Is it mobile responsive?
- Negative Space: Did you effectively make use of negative space in your page designs?
- Fonts: Are the fonts you used easy to read? Did you use web fonts or Google fonts? Were harder-to-read fonts such as script fonts used anywhere, and if so, were they used sparingly?
- Styling: Are headings, titles, bulleted lists, etc. consistently styled throughout the site?
- Color Scheme: Do the colors used align with the brand? Are they used consistently from page to page? Did you use too many different colors?
Part Three: Marketing Content
This is the part of the website proofing checklist where we get into the nitty-gritty. The goal of any marketing website is to attract relevant traffic, so it’s important to pay particularly close attention to the items in this part of the checklist. After all, users might stay because you’ve taken the time to create a good UX/UI design, but they came for the content.
Whether the goal of a page is to sell products, encourage sign-ups, share learning materials, or promote job opportunities, it’s important that a website’s content is accurate, easy-to-understand, concise, and authoritative. At the end of the day, content should keep users on the site as long as possible to increase the likelihood of a conversion. If users encounter something they find to be off-putting, there’s nothing stopping them from leaving to visit a competitor’s site.
- Copy: Does the copy on each page reflect a high level of knowledge and expertise about the subject matter? Do all products/services have adequate product descriptions? Are sentences short, concise, and conversational?
- Readability: Does text overlay a busy image or a low-contrast background color? Are lines or paragraphs too long?
- SEO Best Practices: Did you pay attention to SEO ranking factors? If a keyword strategy was implemented, did you follow best practices, including keyword placement in headings, optimal keyword density in body copy, and incorporation of keywords in the metadata?
- Images: Are the images on the site relevant and of good quality? Were they properly obtained?
- Visual Elements: Do you make use of icons, graphics, diagrams, etc? Do they help better communicate the main ideas of the website or not? Does their appearance align with the brand and the overall website?
- Brand Voice: Does the content reflect a consistent tone and brand voice throughout the site?
- Grammar and Spelling: Have you checked that the copy includes no spelling mistakes, grammar errors, or misused punctuation?
Live Website Proofing Made Easier
Getting your website design client-ready is no easy task, but once you’ve checked off all the boxes above and it’s time to send it off for review, we want the process to go as smoothly as possible.
Ashore enables live website proofing for our customers to make sharing websites and receiving client feedback a straightforward process. To review a website on our platform, you simply embed a tracking code script on the website you wish to review, and then copy and paste the site URL into Ashore. It’s that easy! Once the proof has been created, approvers will be able to navigate a website as they normally would and make contextual comments by toggling commenting on and off.
Another unique feature we offer Ashore users is the ability to view a website at different pixel widths. This allows approvers to review the same webpage as it would display on different screens, including mobile devices, tablets, regular desktops, and even extra large screens. Any comments made will be tied to a specific point on the page as well as the selected screen width.
In many cases, client review and approval of a website can take longer than the actual design phase. Ashore wants to change that. If you’re ready to streamline website proofing, sign up for a free Ashore account today.