How to critique a website
or at least one way to..
A website has a job to do. The first thing you need to understand is that. Without the specific job. All you can do is be general.
I find that a site, any site, has a primary goal, and a secondary goal. That is its job. Anything else tends to diffuse the message of those first two.
So write them down on a piece of paper in big letters — they are your touchstone as you look move through the site.
Heres one we’ll use for an example.
primary goal: ‘to sell fair trade products at competitive prices’
secondary goal: ‘to share knowledge about fair trade’
Remember as a web developer you are rarely building sites for you to use. Use this piece of paper to help you remember that
These statements are how you will frame appropriate testing, giving you success criteria.
So yes, worry about css compatibility, responsiveness and markup issues. But don’t forget that the site has a job to do.
And go page by page through, looking at the site and ask yourself:
how does this help achieve the primary goal ?,
and then ..
how does this help achieve the secondary goal ?.
What stands in the way of achieving that — if the css is (to coin a technical phrase) pants.. what is it in the inherent pants-ness that affects these 2 goals.
Because seeing things like this, and talking about them makes it much easier to communicate the value of what you do, and what you can add.
Thats my approach anyway — goal first, Its stood me in good stead too.