There are many approaches and metrics that can be employed to evaluate a website’s effectiveness, but the first step before choosing them would be to ensure that the intended audience is well defined. The goal is to make sure that the people for whom the website is designed are the ones whose feedback is collected and prioritized, as this will inform the most effective potential changes.
A survey is often the best way to have direct feedback from users, although it relies on their active participation and therefore yields limited results. And open source service like LimeSurvey is one option, though many others exist.
- Collecting statistics about visits to the website is also a commonly used and insightful method for testing its effectiveness, and there are many great open-source tools to do so (e.g., Matomo), which do not leak data to third parties. They can potentially reveal information like:
- how long a person stayed on the website
- which pages they visited
- which country they come from
- what search term on a search engine led them to the website
- how often they return to the website
This can indicate whether visitors’ profiles match the target audience and also which content is most relevant, thereby highlighting areas for further development.
Reaching out to partners and associates can also be an effective way to create a focus group and collect feedback. Ideally, this would be done before a website is launched so that tweaks can be made in advance, like a beta version that gets tested in a small, trusted circle. However, this can also be done again at any point to further evaluate the site and receive suggestions from friendly and like-minded organizations and partners about what works well and what could be improved.
Finally, requesting feedback in-house from colleagues not directly involved with the project can also shed useful insights, particularly with regard to ensuring that your vision and values are being well communicated and represented.