The Site Evaluation is often the first step in an engagement. This high-level analysis is pretty effective at identifying the low-hanging fruit of legacy problems.

The preliminary site evaluation is often based on heuristic analysis, which is basically a fast track to insight.

Heuristic ( heuristics; Greek: , “find” or “discover“) refers to experience-based techniques for problem solving, learning, and discovery. Heuristic methods are used to speed up the process of finding a good enough solution, where an exhaustive search is impractical. Examples of this method include using a “rule of thumb”, an educated guess, an intuitive judgment, or common sense.

What Needs to Be Done

Spend some time at the site; pushing, prodding, and taking notes.  In a short period of time it is clear …

  • What it Is
  • What Needs Work
  • What’s Missing


For Example

First Impressions

Evaluation screenNot clear what the company does. No real guidance. 3 main links are undifferentiated and unclear. Right hand boxes appear more important than information in main content area.

Links in right hand boxes are long underlined text citations that are unnecessarily busy. “News” links all take you out of the site without warning.

Brief Synopsis

The thumbnail overview includes “First Impressions”, with annotated screenshots.

Overall Evaluation

(See below) In-depth assessment of the site’s Presentation, Content and Functionality. With simple ratings so you’ll know the score.

Site Features

Breakdown of the site content areas and functions; what they’re made of, how well they work

Evaluation Checklist

This portion of the document gives us a sense of the general strengths and weaknesses of the site. Here’s a brief overview of the some of the types of topics I look at – and how I describe them.


  • Navigation immediacy, obviousness, consistency
  • Design Theme continuity, attractiveness
  • Graphics appropriateness, speed of display

Additional topics: Layout, Clarity, Comprehension …


  • Structure cohesion, fluidity
  • Context Sensitivity richness, validity
  • Depth volume, utility
  • Cross-referencing appropriateness

Additional topics: Flow, Relevance, Coherence …


  • Site Map structure, completeness
  • Quick Tour validity, conciseness
  • Help clarity, completeness

Additional topics: Glossary, Contact Us, Shortcuts, Personalization, Printability …


  • Goal-oriented Does it achieve intent?
  • Useful Is it worthwhile?
  • Impressive Is it memorable?

Additional topics: Enjoyable, Interesting, Attractive …

At the end of the day we have a basis for discussing WHAT needs to be done and HOW to go about doing it.



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