Back in the day, (and let’s pause here to admit that I just like saying ‘back in the day,’ even if I’m talking about last Wednesday)…back in the day, I was forced to do a peer review for every term paper submitted as part of the Honors Core course in college. The peer review was designed to open my eyes to a paper’s flaws before it was submitted for grading by a professor.
In other words, I would write a paper. My peer would write a paper. And then we would switch and read the other’s work. This made it easy to point out the flaws in logic, the grammatical errors, the assumptions that didn’t work, and the bits that needed some refining before getting to the professor’s careful eyes.
The least helpful peers wrote, “Good job.” The ones that really helped cited that flaw on page 7 which leads to a huge assumption on page 11, which leads to a faulty conclusion on page 14.
The best peer reviews were not kind. Kindness is not the point. Having an honest, unbiased look at your own work is the point.
Because after working on the paper for fourteen hours straight, you become blind to its flaws. And that’s when the buddy system can save your ass.
When it comes to your website, the same thing applies. You’re blind to its flaws, as you’ve spent countless hours/days/years working on it. You don’t know what visitors do when they come to hang out, you don’t know why they stick around, and you don’t know what else they would like to see from you.
A peer can help. Give a peer you trust and love this list of questions, and have them answer truthfully.
(Please, promise not to cry or to hold it against the peer before giving them this task.)
What was the first thing you did when you visited my website?
The second thing?
What did you find interesting about my website? (My writing? Photos? Articles? Links? Bio?)
What did you find frustrating about my website?
Was the menu navigation clear and simple?
Could you find both my pricing information and my product information easily?
Did you read my bio at all? Before or after everything else?
How did you navigate my website? The top menu bar or sidebar? Through links within articles? Other?
What would you like to see more of on my website? On my blog?
If you were a potential client, how would you book a session with me?
A peer who loves you enough to answer truthfully will give you priceless direction when it comes to how best to tweak your website’s effectiveness.
If you’re brave, repeat this activity with another peer after you’ve tweaked the flaws that became apparent as a result of the first peer review. Lather, rinse, repeat, and build yourself a killer web presence — the blind way.