Want to know what visitors to your website are experiencing? It’s helpful to evaluate user experiences with usability studies or heuristic evaluations, but both require at least some investment of time and/or money. If you want quick insights on the cheap, consider using this simple 25-point-usability-checklist.

The checklist is a do-it-yourself solution for site evaluation. It lets you compare your site’s interface to industry-standard “rules of thumb” for usability. By seeing how your site stacks up against accepted principles, you will come away with a better understanding of its usability strengths and weaknesses.

Usability checklist topics

The checklist lets you evaluate 4 general aspects of your site.

  1. Orientation
    Site visitors should clearly understand who you are and what you offer. At all times, visitors should know where they are within your site and where they can go.
  2. Navigating
    The navigation is clear and identifiable as the obvious way to move between pages. Navigation serves site visitors best if it is consistent from page to page or sub-site to sub-site. Site visitors should be able to return to the WSU home page at any time by clicking the logo in the upper left corner. The “back” button should be clearly available on all pages.
  3. Labeling
    Labels include category identifiers, naming conventions for buttons, site navigation, and links within content. Labels should always be concise. They should be written with terms that your site visitors would use. Every page title should relate to the labels found in content on that page. Link labels must clearly and accurately describe the content found by clicking them.
  4. Visual and information design
    The content and design are clear, clean, and aesthetically pleasing. They must be based upon the WSU website templates. Layout is structured for maximum legibility and readability. Content and design are presented in a clear hierarchy that supports how people read on online.

Evaluation Scale

The scale is designed to keep things as simple as possible by using 3 ratings:

  • “good” = pass
  • “fair” = conforms to the guideline in most places but needs some work
  • “poor” = fail

Once you achieve a “good” rating for all 25 points, you can be reasonably confident that visitors will find what they need.

It is ideal if more than one person performs the review, since more people usually identify more issues. But even if you are the only one who uses the checklist, it is still worth the effort. The checklist will identify issues you have successfully addressed and uncover those you may have missed. Try it out!

25-point usability checklist