There are companies out there who will gladly bring a critical eye and professionally review your website…for a fee. A few design agencies price this service upwards of $1500 but some as low as $250, and you generally get what you pay for. Many give you a written report, an SEO suggestion and some sort of follow up meeting with them. Great if you’ve got the means, but not exactly within the budget of an amateur web designer or someone looking to get started. Let’s assume you’re looking for some honest feedback or advice. Where do you go?
Option #1 Forums
The first answer shouted out by the google search “review my website” is a forum. Proceed with caution my friends. Unless you are already an established member of said forum, your innocent request for guidance may be interpreted by other members as “spammy”. Don’t get me wrong, forums can be a great (did I mention 100% free) place to get a wide range of opinions and tips for your site. But only as long as you play by the rules, and even then some forums are more welcoming than others. Follow some general rules and you should be OK:
- Take a second and read the forum rules/guidelines. They may have a minimum number of posts needed before you get access to certain areas or would be able to post a link to your site for review purposes.
- If there is a minimum post requirement don’t DON’T cruise around the forum for 10 minutes and leave 15 random posts in your wake. If you establish yourself as a legitimate member first people will be more likely to take an honest look at your site when you do post it. This may take a few days or even a few weeks, look for threads where you can contribute something valuable, or bring a different perspective to the discussion.
- Post your site for review once and only once, and make sure its in the appropriate category.
Some forums are more likely to constructively review your site than others. The ones listed here are good to try, but beware the ’spam’ label…it will get you booted at them all.
Option #2 Gallery Sites
Another completely free option is submitting to a few of the countless gallery sites out there. There are literally hundreds that take submissions. You may not get a plethora of constructive feedback from this method, but people leave comments here and there and getting selected is a good indicator that your site is on the right track.
Option #3 Cozy Up to a Blogger
Reach out to a blogger for a review. It can be mutually beneficial, you get a trained eye to critique your site, and the blogger gets a great post out of it. When you are looking for a blogger to send your review request to make sure you actually read through a few of their more recent posts to make sure the relationship will be a good fit. You’ll get a feel for what kind of topics pique their interest and their opinions on issues, you don’t want to send a website about great leather and fur products to an animal rights blogger, for example.
Do your research first, then send out an email to the individual blogger you’d like to review your site – an email sent out to thousands of bloggers is too general to be taken seriously by any of them. Your email should do a few basic things: Introduce yourself and explain your website, show some respect by detailing why exactly a review of your site might turn into a good post for their specific audience, and give them all the information they could possible want or need about your website. If you don’t hear back its fine to send a follow up email – but only one! If you do hear back make sure to keep in contact with the blogger throughout the review and afterwards. A blogger may gear his review to appeal to the audience, so ask him for private feedback as well…you may learn more. Last but not least, don’t get mad if the review isn’t great. When you get a blog review its public and there’s an inherent risk that you could get some bad publicity out of the deal. You’ll make it worse by getting angry or lashing out in retaliation, so take the hit and ask the blogger how you could have done better.
Several bloggers have really embraced this method. Jackie Baker has started Site Clinic, a weekly column-style blog that takes submissions and chooses one each week to write an in-depth review on.
Option #4 Do it Yourself
So what if you’re not an expert, there are plenty of tools out there to test the quality of your website for you. Here are a few good ones:
- The Trifecta Tool Set – measures the overall strength of your site number of links, number of times your brand is mentioned on the web, and the amount of traffic your site receives
- W3C Markup Validation – checks the validity of the code on your site
- Website Grader – measures the marketing effectiveness of your site
- SEO Scores – analysis of SEO tools/keywords