Web Site Checklists for Merchants (draft)

By , December 11, 2007

This is a “work-in-progress” checklist that I created in December 2007, but never finished. It is essentially a list of “issues” to consider when evaluating a merchant’s web site. (It is adapted from an internal checklist that I’ve used when evaluating advertisers seeking to place “performance-based advertising” on my site).

There are many other web-marketing checklists you might consider, including these four:

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Here’s MY draft “web site checklist for merchants” (December 2007):

  • Pet Peeves
    • Involuntary Audio – autoplay, virtual sales agent
      • Don’t play any audio message unless the user initiates it
    • Hyperlink tricks (style, functionality)
      • The default setting for links is “blue and underlined.” Consider very carefully why you’d want something different.
    • Unreadable fonts & font sizes
      • Avoid using “fixed size” fonts — let your visitors decide whether they want to view your text in a larger or smaller font (using Ctrl-Plus or Ctrl-Minus).
    • Typos (misspelling, grammar) – unprofessional = no sale
  • Essential Links
    • Shipping Info – clearly explain, with no surprises
    • About Us – Identify the company’s name, street address, and more.
    • Contact Us – More options = more sales.
    • Privacy Policy
    • Security Policy (often combined with Privacy Policy but security issues must be addressed).
    • View Cart
    • Return Policy *
  • Site Performance Issues
    • Site Load Times
    • Search Times
    • Image Load Times
    • Third-Party Server Issues
    • Monitoring Tools & Outage Notifications
  • Site Design Issues
    • Consistent Navigation (header, left navbar, footer)
    • Changing & Disappearing Menus
    • Transition from Main Site to Shopping Cart – appearance
    • Transition from Main Site to Shopping Cart – URL/domain
    • Related Items (Upsell)
    • Search Functionality
    • Window Size Issues
    • Effect of User Choices
    • Excess White Space
    • Forced Viewing Options (font size, etc.)
    • Browser Variations
    • Javascript
    • Plug-Ins
    • Images, Alt-Tags, Text-Only Browser
  • Disability Rights Issues
    • Visually Impaired Customers
    • Other Disabilities
    • Font size & style issues; relative font sizes
  • Bookmarking and SEO Issues
    • Page Titles
    • Meta-Tags
    • Keyword-spamming
    • Over-Reaching
    • Jargon and Alternate Keywords (who is your customer? what do they know?)
  • Branding and Marketing Issues
    • Consistent Branding
  • Credibility Issues
    • Company’s address/location
    • Names of principals
    • Names (pictures) of key employees
    • Telephone number
    • Email address or contact form
    • Picture of office & staff
    • Return Policy
    • Endorsements/Testimonials
    • Typos (misspelling, grammar)
  • Shopping Cart Process
    • Remove from Cart
    • Change quantity in cart
    • Compute shipping & sales tax – before requesting payment info
    • Number of steps/pages
    • Registration Requirement
    • Asking for unnecessary data
  • Narrow Issues
    • Color Matching
    • Use of Color to Convey Info
    • Background Image & Colors
    • Consistent Use of Quotes, Italics, Underlining, Bold.

    Additional Issues for Affiliates:

    • Toll-free number
    • Call Now
    • Chat window
    • Chat pop-up
    • Call to order
    • Call for wholesale/volume pricing
    • External Advertising (AdSense, affiliate links)

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