I used to use the design of a site as a quick measure for how mature the site was. For a variety of reasons: improving tutorials, better tools, resources like bootstrap, this is no longer the case. I’m pretty happy with the design of this site, and Allison (not a designer) did it in just a few hours.
These are things I note while gauging site maturity:

  • Can I reset my password?
  • Am I forwarded to the requested page after being bounced to a log in page?
  • Are emails sent in multipart/mime format with an effective HTML and plain-text version?
  • Is the URL system consistent and meaningful?
  • Are there clear links to the privacy policy and terms of service?

None of these elements tend to be priorities while a site is being developed, but they pull at developers to be fixed over time. The more of these things a site has, the longer I tend to believe it’s been around.
What do you look at?

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Very interesting checklist. The most important things to me are search, clear + meaningful navigation and a lack of ads (or as few as possible).

Search is important because what makes sense to the in-house team isn't what makes sense to the rest of the world. I may not be up to the challenge of wading through your layout for what I want. Knowing I can quickly search through your content for what I need (whether it be by tags or a search field) is critical. If your site were a physical store, the search field is the greeter that asks what you want and points you to what aisle it's in.

The same goes for navigation, but to a lesser extent. Getting around is why I'm here. Making it easier to do is a sign of understanding the unspoken intention I (or any other visitors) have when we showed up to your site. Things are logically grouped and easy to sort through. Back to the physical store analogy, the navigation are the cards above the aisle. They don't tell me ALL the things in the aisle; they give vague categories of what is in there. A quick glance and I have a good idea if I need to go in there or not.

Lack of ads is just common courtesy. I know I'm not paying to be on your site in monetary terms, but I'm paying in attention and trust. Throwing ads at me makes me feel your content is most likely just a ruse designed to create opportunities to sling ads at me. I trust you less and I return less and less, even when I haven't found a viable alternative for what it is you're offering.

I guess my checklist has more to do with being a consumer than it does with being a creator.
#1 Uzo (Homepage) on 2013-02-11 17:45 (Reply)

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Hi, I’m Paul Reinheimer, a developer working on the web.

I co-founded WonderProxy which provides access to over 200 proxies around the world to enable testing of geoip sensitive applications. We've since expanded to offer more granular tooling through Where's it Up

My hobbies are cycling, photography, travel, and engaging Allison Moore in intelligent discourse. I frequently write about PHP and other related technologies.