Online Tools for Analyzing your Web Site

October 19, 2009

It is unfortunately not possible to get a complete overview of how well a web site is working for the users by only using automatic analysis tools. However, there exists many tools which give valuable indications.

Web Accessibility

It should be clearly noted that in order to make a web site successfully working for all users, including users with disabilities, automatic accessibility measurements is not sufficient. In fact, only 20% of the tests defined in the Unified Web Evaluation Methodology can be measured automatically. However, many tools of automatic accessibility evaluation exists. Following are some of these;

  • The eAccessibility Checker detects web accessibility barriers using tests from the Unified Web Evaluation Methodology.
  • Walidator is another online tool based on the Unified Web Evaluation Methodology. In addition to automatic evaluation, the Walidator also assists in manual evaluation.
  • WAVE is interesting tool for web accessibility analysis which, in contrast to most other tools, does not a report or list of all the detected barriers. It presented the evaluated web page visually as well as clearly marking the detected barriers.
  • TAW is a tool which, in addition to WCAG1.0 and WCAG2.0 could present accessibility according to the W3C mobileOK Basic Tests.

Code Validation

(x)HTML and CSS are the most used technologies on web pages. There are many reasons to have valid (x)HTML and CSS. To mention a few; valid code is important to make sure the web pages are rendered similarly in different browsers, to help faster loading in web browsers and to reduce maintenance. The World Wide Web consortium (W3C) has also gathered opinions from the web community validation of web pages.

I would be surprised if many disagree with me when I say that hard to take a professional web site seriously if there has not even valid HTML. Thankfully, making sure web pages are implemented with valid (x)HTML and CSS is both easy and fool proof.

  • The classic and de facto standard of (x)HTML validation is the W3C Markup Valid Service.
  • Similarly, the de facto standard for CSS validation is the W3C Jigsaw.
  • Additionally, the CSE HTML Validator Lite does similar work as the W3C Markup Validator, but it has a little more detailed interface.

Broken Links

Another issue which can easily be checked automatically is detecting links which are no longer working (broken links). When you create a web site you typically link to the relevant resources – both internal and external. As the web site grows, chances are that the number of links to external resources also grows. Naturally, it would be a tedious process to manually verify that your links are still working, which is why we have automatic tools for doing exactly this:

  • One such tool is the SiteReportCard. In addition to broken links, it also checks for spelling errors, search engine hits and more. This is definitely worth a try.
  • Another similar tool to check for broken links, HTML syntax, etc. is Dr Watson.

Performance

Web Site performance can also be carried out automatically.

  • Websiteoptimization.com has a web page speed test.  This tool provides information on the web page size and download duration with various connection rates. In addition, it provides suggestions on improve the performance of the evaluated web site such as adding HTTP compression, reducing the size of scripts etc.
  • Load Impact is a more  thorough performance analysis tool. Among the useful features, it sends multiple requests to the evaluated web site in order to get an overview of how many simultaneous requests (users) the web site can handle.