A Failing Grade

Many web design professionals, myself included, use a number of tools to help evaluate a potential customer’s website to show them areas where they can improve, as well as things they are doing right. One of the more popular tools for doing this is Hubspot’s website.grader.com But humans, not software, are still the best judge of what makes a good website. In some cases, website grader does not do an accurate job, especially with database-driven websites.

For example, I recently evaluated a website that this software gave a grade of 59 (out of 100). That in or of itself isn’t so bad, but the reasons it gave for down-grading the site included the following:

  • No blog (there is in fact a blog associated with this website and it even displays the latest posts through RSS on the home page)
  • Readability: undetermined (I assume because this is a database-driven site and unlike Google, website grader can’t see the content)
  • Permanent re-direct not found (there is in fact a 301 redirect that ties the domain and the www.domain together) 
  • Twitter grade: no twitter account found (there is one, by the same name as the website)
  • Conversion form not found: (in fact, there are 3)
  • Google page rank: 4
  • Alexa on the other hand puts this same site in the top 11% of all websites, and Google shows 455 indexed pages, and 934 inbound links. When you look at the site (as a human), not only do you see these issues, but the site itself looks visually appealing. I would give the site at least a B.

Contrast this to another site I evaluated. Website grader gives this site a 83. When I do a manual evaluation of this site, I see absolutely nothing that would make me want to do business with this company. I would grade this site as a C-. So why the discrepancy? Here is what website grader says about this second site:

  • Blog analysis: blog not found (just like the other site)
  • Readability: secondary/high school
  • Twitter grade: no twitter account found
  • Conversion form: 1 found
  • Google page rank: 2
  • Alexa rank: top 37%
  • Inbound links: 926 (fewer than the site above)

Obviously, this isn’t just an issue with HubSpot’s website grader. It’s a problem with relying on software to do the job of a human. So go ahead and use these types of tools, but don’t figure that they give you the final answer. Remember that your site is meant for human customers, not some robot or software code.

Note: I have purposefully not provided the names of the websites above to protect their owners, but if someone from HubSpot contacts me I will be happy to show them.