Some of the best b-to-b Web sites use quantitative page-rating tools to get immediate feedback from visitors. But Web content managers warn that while page rating can provide very valuable information, it shouldnât be the primary source for site feedback.
"Page rating is best used for a âcanaryâ test of your site," said Sun Microsystemsâ Ben Hansen. "That is, is it dead or alive? You want it to quantitatively measure two basic things: Could you find the information you were looking for? And was the information ultimately useful?"
Ideally, the page rater will ask for a scaled answer, say 1 to 10, to these questions.
Hansen said to expect the numbers to look a bit odd. "Itâs definitely not a bell-shaped curve. Visitors tend to respond on the extreme ends of the scale, so donât be surprised [if you get] a more U-shaped distribution. In this case, averages wonât be very useful."
"Unless somethingâs really out of whack, youâre probably not going to notice any major fluctuations on a daily basis," Hansen said. "But what itâs useful for is tracking page performance long-termâespecially to see if the rating goes up once youâve made fixes to it."
Usability guru Jakob Nielsen, however, has one caveat about page-rating tools. "If your site doesnât generate much traffic, then quantitative measures such as page raters wonât be statistically valid. And basing decisions on what could just be feedback ânoiseâ is worse than not getting any feedback at all." âRoger Slavens