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Archive for Website Design Reviews

Website Design Reviews are written by the Mequoda Research Team, based on our Website Design Scorecard that features 14 website design guidelines, and focuses on the websites of today’s top publishers.

To create the 14 website design guidelines, we’ve reviewed hundreds of websites and interviewed dozens of website publishers. We’ve conducted a series of expert usability reviews and actual user tests to determine what we believe to be the top 14 best practices for successful website publishing.

In this section, you’ll find publisher websites reviewed based on this scorecard. To submit your website to be reviewed, email Chris Sturk at

Free Download: Learn how to optimize every page on your site by downloading our FREE 12 Master Landing Page Templates white paper today.

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Mobile Web Growth Drives New Responsive Website Design Standards

The number of people who own smartphones has been consistently rising for years and doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down anytime soon. Approximately 50% of people who own a cell phone have chosen a smartphone. What does this mean? That your websites need to be able to adapt for the smartphone viewer. Below are a few articles that may offer some techniques on improving your website’s mobile design.   Continue

Website Design Review of Golf Vacation Insider scores well, but adding video and encouraging user-generated content could bring it to the next level

We put Golf Vacation Insider to the Mequoda Website Design Review Scorecard test. This popular website is aimed at those who go on golf vacations or who are interested in places to play golf. In addition to the site, publishes a free email newsletter and books on golf travel. Managing Editor and golf travel veteran Craig Better works closely with the editors of Golf Odyssey, a monthly paid newsletter and website, to provide free, concise insider travel tips to subscribers at least three times a week.

We put Golf Vacation Insider to the Mequoda Website Scorecard test. This popular website is for those who are interested in places to play golf or go on golf vacations. It has no paid advertisers and does not sell products, thus providing visitors with “expert, honest, and unbiased” golf vacation information.

1. Strategic Intent: A

This site is a free content website, but it is related to the site Golf Odyssey, which is a paid newsletter site.   Continue

Website Design Review of

This week we took a look at, a popular site for communicators, and put it to the Mequoda Website Design Review Scorecard.

1. Strategic Intent: A

At first look it’s easy to see that the homepage of this site is about the content. This site is the free entry point for content into the larger Ragan network of sites. There are no 3rd paid advertisements on the homepage.

There are links to paid products like books, training, and consulting as ways to monetize the site, but there is plenty of free information offered to entice repeat visitors. Some articles are for paid members only but there is a good balance of free content.   Continue

Website Design Review of Dark Daily

See how Dark Daily holds up to the Mequoda Website Design Review Scorecard

This week we used the Mequoda Website Design Review Scorecard to review Dark Daily. Dark Daily is a news/e-briefing site whose audience includes clinical laboratories and pathology labs. Its is part of a family of sites from The Dark Intelligence Group, which also includes The Dark Report, a paid publication focusing on news reports and the latest facts and trends that affect medical laboratories of all kinds. The Editor-in-Chief is Robert Michel.   Continue

Website Design Review of America’s Test Kitchen

We explored America’s Test Kitchen to see how it held up to the Mequoda Website Design Review Scorecard. America’s Test Kitchen is the “Uber” brand for multiple magazines, a TV show and a number of products. We use the Mequoda Website Design Review Scorecard to evaluate the website component of their overall strategy.

1. Strategic Intent: A

Website Design Review of the Huffington Post

See how this popular news website scored on the Mequoda Design Scorecard

Website Design Review – Business Management Daily

Business Management Daily has a strong online presence with a user-friendly website

Website Design Review – Artist Daily

See why Artist Daily received an A


Mequoda Daily Website Design Review

We visited our own site to show you how it ranks

Better Homes & Gardens Website Design Review 2010

We revisited Better Homes & Gardens’ website design to see what’s been improved since our last review   Continue Website Design Review 2010 has overcome the hurdle of letting their print roots go   Continue Travel Website Design Review

Today, most would-be travelers start their journeys online by researching destinations, carrier schedules, accommodations and free web mapping services.

In order to compete with travel agencies and agents, travel information publishers, who traditionally published books, magazines and newsletters, have migrated to the Internet and become online publishers. Some have created retail websites whose primary objective is to sell traditional hard-copy books. Others are focused on publishing travel reviews on their sites, and derive revenue from advertising and affiliate links.   Continue

House of White Birches Website Design Review

House of White Birches, a division of the Dynamic Resource Group, is an experienced print publisher. It has an enviable collection of magazines and book titles. It has carved out several profitable special-interest niches that it addresses with excellent products. But like many other successful print publishers, its Internet marketing strategy is not well executed.

The site suffers from disorganization and an inferior architecture that confuses users and diminishes sales.   Continue a Professional Outlet of Hard-to-Find Resources

The Writer’s Store is an extremely competent site serving a tightly-focused niche market.
Although competent in most areas, a few, relatively easily-implemented changes—described in the Recommendations section at the end of this review—could increase sales by building a stronger emotional bond between the store and its customers.   Continue Website Design Review

With Advertisers Footing the Bill, has Built a Website Offering a Superior—and Free—Online Content Experience for Users. is part of (do I really need to say this?) the Forbes family publishing business. Including the familiar Forbes magazine, the websites and, spin-off magazines such as ForbesLife, business and investing specialty newsletters, a business conference division and Forbes on Fox TV. This is a typical Mequoda publishing pyramid—with a very rich family sitting on top.   Continue Website Design Review

The Site that Earned a Top Score in 2004 Hasn’t Lost Too Much Ground. The Lesson Here is Simply a Wake-Up Call—for Online Publishers, Continuous Improvement is a Requirement Just to Keep Up.

Readers familiar with Mequoda as Internet Media Review (IMR), might remember that was given the number one Best Practice Ranking for Consumer Magazine Website Design. Since that time, a lot has changed—for, for the Mequoda website design scorecard and for magazine websites.   Continue Website Design Review

With A’s in Strategic Intent, Relationship Building and Brand Preference, it’s Hardly Surprising that this Non-Profit is an Online Leader in the Paid Membership Website Category.

Consumer Reports’ successful membership website strategy has earned them over two million online subscribers (as of November, 2005). Averaging well over 20,000 new online subscribers per month, it’s obvious this site is doing something right.   Continue Website Design Review has Earned High Marks in Relationship Building and Readability. Other Areas Such as Community Building Display a Good Infrastructure that Could Really be Impressive with a Little More Promotion.
Mequoda has previously covered the Boston Common Press’s media network in America’s Test Kitchen Media Network Case Study by Jane E. Zarem. The membership website (and print magazine) Cook’s Illustrated is an important part of the business strategy. Here we’ll review the design and usability of the membership website With 120,000 paid online subscribers, this site’s recipe is worth a try.   Continue Website Design Review Stands Out for Integration of TV and Magazine Content Online, but Otherwise the Site is Doing Poorly on Some Key Usability Guidelines.

You almost can’t have a dinner party without someone making a “Martha Stewart” comment at some point during the evening. Beyond being a mere household name, Martha Stewart has become synonymous with home decorating, cooking and gardening—bringing beauty to all things domestic. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc (MSLO), is an integrated media company distributing the “art of everyday living” to us in many different channels, broken down into business segments:   Continue Website Design Review

Knitters Review is a Great Web-product for the Target Audience of Knitters. It’s Easy to Use, Easy to Read, Easy to Interact With and the Brand has Integrity.

Knitter’s Review is a six-year-old site run by a small group of enthusiasts. Their story in the About pages tells of publishing veteran Clara Parkes, who left the rat race where she produced large scale websites and escaped to the peace of rural Maine to focus on doing something she loved. She has two compatriots who represent the operational and technical ends of (KR), and the support of her friends, family and postmistress, but not much else. In other words, a true hands-on, do-it-yourself success story.

The success of the site is readily apparent in the plethora of forum posts. This is the real deal, a community site that has been brought together via KR’s weekly editorial product reviews. The site makes its revenues through advertising and their own store. It is a true Mequoda network that is run without a large publishing company behind it—just good old-fashioned know-how.   Continue

Reader’s Digest Website Design Review

Reader’s Digest Online Version is a Great Example of an Old Brand Taking their Show Online Successfully

Reader’s Digest is so well known and widely read that almost everybody has picked up a copy at some point in their lives. Founded in 1922, the family friendly, feel-good favorite is also the flagship of a billion dollar public company. The Reader’s Digest is the largest-selling magazine in the world, and the company uses their circulation power to sell a plethora of books, magazines, games and children’s titles, and recently music video and audio books.   Continue

The Hub for Internal Communicators Website Design Review

An Online-Only Membership Website is a Good Idea for Melcrum, and The Hub is Taking the Right Steps to Bring the Promised Value to Both the Company and to the Audience.

The Hub for Internal Communicators is a membership website with research, information and tools for communication professionals. The product and the audience are identified in the tagline: The most comprehensive resource available for employee communication professionals.

Produced by Melcrum, an information and research company with offices in the UK, North America and Australia, The Hub for Internal Communicators (The Hub) has been online as a UK site since 2005 and launched a North American version shortly after.   Continue Website Design Review is a Sturdy Site That Will Serve the Purposes of the Master Brand, but Won’t Warm the Hearts of the Audience.

Woodcraft Supply Corp. is a leading seller of woodworking tools. The company has been around for 75 years and sells via retail, online and in over 3 million catalogues globally. Expanding the woodcrafting empire, the company publishes a magazine, licenses franchises, offers classes with certified continuing education credits and acts as a trade organization for woodworking teachers. Running all of these businesses through a single website would be a recipe for disaster, and Woodcraft has rightly chosen to create a branded network of sites to fulfill the diverse business goals. This review details the website design of the magazine site,   Continue

Website Design Lessons From Cook’s Illustrated

Week after week, our editorial staff gets together to forage through the Internet looking for ideas and examples that could help our readers make their subscription websites more effective. In the process we often find ourselves getting on one soapbox or another, proving, once again, that there’s a lot of room for improvement out there. With the holidays fast approaching, we turned our attention to the many food and wine websites on the web, looking for the best subscription-driven website for cooking aficionados—a challenging field for generating subscription revenues as there are so many free recipe sources out there.   Continue Website Design Review

The Incredible Website Usability of is a Key Component in the Success of this Community Phenomenon. (CL) was a simple online community classified site started in 1995 by Craig Newmark (yes, Virginia, there is a Craig). The originally-non-profit site was incorporated in 1999. There are 190 versions of the website—localized by city—throughout the world, featuring free classified advertisements (jobs, housing, for sale, services, personals, gigs and community) and forums.   Continue Website Design Review

The Publishers of the Wine Enthusiast Magazine Have Done it Right. They Have Created a Series of Websites that Complement Each Other and Effectively Lead Visitors to Make a Buying Decision. is an online catalog that offers a comprehensive selection of all things wine related. The only thing the site doesn’t offer is wine. But that’s just fine, as the publishers of this site depend on a motivated visitor who is enthusiastic enough about wine to want the very best in wine accessories.   Continue Website Design Review

AOL’s New Entertainment Site, Has Everything Going For It. In Addition to Having a Great Background, the Excellent Website Design Scores for Make it Easy to Predict a Shining Future

On December 8, 2005, AOL’s expected press release announcing the launch of the new entertainment site,, hit the buzz-makers. The commentary? Only that AOL needed a massive influx of traffic, and that even in the crowded online entertainment space the subsidiary of Time Warner should be able to put up enough interesting new tidbits to draw in the ever-celeb-hungry masses.   Continue Website Design Review

Our Campaign to Stamp Out Bad Website Design Turns Ugly with a Visit to, Which In No Way Resembles What This Reviewer Imagines it Should=

For me, the two most important of the 14 Mequoda System Website Design and Usability Guidelines address strategic intent and aesthetics.   Continue

The Motley Fool Website Design Review

The Motley Fool Website Provides Relevant and Engaging Content in a Readily Accessible Fashion, Combining Effective Use of Content Webification, Relationship and Community Building and Proper Navigation

Tom and David Gardner have made a career of being foolish, and foolishly brilliant. They have created a brand that is well recognized within the investment community and without. They created this brand by respecting their audience and by offering real value to those tens of thousands of viewers, listeners and readers.   Continue Website Design Review is a Pay-For-Access, Online Database of Incalculable Value to Freelance Writers that Cross-Sells Print Publications and other Products Owned by its Publisher as it Helps Build a Priceless Customer List
Online databases sold by subscription are big business for LexisNexis, R.R. Bowker, Thomson and other traditional publishers of directories.

The idea makes a lot of sense. An online directory is easier to update and keep current, and the costs for manufacturing and delivery are minuscule compared to those of a printed volume. Major directory publishers generally offer both print and online versions and these can be very pricey.   Continue Website Design Review

The Most Pressing Question About is the Strategy of the Site. Is it a True Content Site or Just Marketing Print Subscriptions?

Vanity Fair is one of those cultural icons that doesn’t have to introduce itself. But, being a bit of a cultural dork myself, I’ll let them do it anyway:   Continue Website Design Review is an Excellent Example of a Publisher Taking Advantage of the Synergies Between Audience Information Needs and Technology’s Ability to Facilitate the Satisfaction of Those Needs, an online edition of Investor’s Business Daily, is the sort of site that the core audience loves with a fierce loyalty. With a focus on the signature stock analysis methodology, deep data diving and just the need-to-know news, the website doesn’t have a lot of splashy design and is exceptionally un-exciting for non-investors. is a deep site that succeeds well in providing a plethora of ways for getting and displaying data crucial for the avid trader. Investment junkies love it; IBD knows how to speak to their core audience.   Continue Website Design Review Pays Homage to Benjamin Franklin by Making its Owners Wealthy. Twenty-first Century Publishers Take Note: There is Wisdom in Adopting this Business Model

Financial independence has many rewards beyond the monetary. Or so I would like to believe. In the case of Michael Masterson, who prior to reaching age 40 sold a $135 million business and retired, one of the rewards is a bully pulpit on which to pontificate about anything and everything to anyone who will listen. Or more precisely, anyone who is willing to subscribe to his free email newsletter and read it.   Continue Website Design Review

Mr. Levinson has been busy practicing, developing and evangelizing guerrilla marketing since 1984, with great success. Many startups and small companies use Mr. Levinson’s techniques to produce tangible results with minimal cost. However, established companies such as Smirnoff and Vodafone have also integrated guerrilla techniques into their marketing mix. The concept of guerrilla marketing has been especially well received by Internet companies, which typically operate on limited marketing budgets, and has given rise to other marketing techniques such as viral marketing and search marketing. Guerrilla marketing is characterized by extreme statements that are intended to grab the audience.   Continue Website Design Review Epitomizes Great Website Graphic Design and is a Perfect Partner to Real Simple Magazine. So is it a Brand Site or a Membership Website? Is its Objective Lead Generation or Customer Service?

The Big Lie of the 1950s was the forecast that life in the future would be easier—even effortless—leaving us with lots of free time. Futurists in the 50s looked at all the labor-saving devices that were being invented and predicted that Americans would have so much time on their hands—owing to machines doing all the chores—that we would have to find more leisure activities to fill up the hours.   Continue Website Design Review

Let the Good Times Roll: is a Marketing and Branding Website for its Namesake

According to his website, Guy Kawasaki is a managing director of Garage Technology Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm, and a columnist for Previously, he was an Apple Fellow at Apple Computer, Inc., where he was one of the individuals responsible for the success of the Macintosh computer.

Mr. Kawasaki is the author of eight books including The Art of the Start, Rules for Revolutionaries, How to Drive Your Competition Crazy, Selling the Dream and The Macintosh Way. He has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College. Let’s examine through the prism of the Mequoda System Website Design Guidelines.   Continue Website Design Review

Is Jean Chatzky, the Latest Pop Personal Financial Adviser, Well Served by a Website that Confuses Visitors with Too Many Options and Stale Content? Jean Chatzky is the latest in a series of popular, photogenic (and telegenic) female financial advisors that includes Jane Bryant Quinn, Suze Orman and the late Sylvia Porter. Ms. Chatzky writes regular personal finance columns for United Features syndicate, Time, Money and USA Weekend, and is a regular contributor to NBC’s Today Show.   Continue Website Design Review

Although it Scores Well in Many of Mequoda’s Website Design Guidelines, as a Whole is not as Satisfying as its Individual Parts. A fascinating blend of religious goals and secular marketing, offers an interesting look at providing resources and community in the Internet Age. The site is maintained by Christianity Today Incorporated, backed by over fifty years of publishing experience.   Continue Website Design Review

The Economist is the premier weekly news and international affairs publication with an average circulation of over one million copies a week. The Economist began publishing in 1843. According to its contents page, its goal is to “take part in a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress.” Subjects covered include international news, economics, politics, business, finance, science and technology and the arts.   Continue Website Design Review

No matter how profitable a website can be, using “conventional” revenue sources, like’s classified approach (augmented by banners and context-specific ads), new revenue possibilities appear after analyzing the site’s content and comparing it to what I—as a consumer—want from the site, and am willing to pay for.   Continue Website Design Review

A Well-Planned Strategy, Attractive Website Design and Thoughtful Attention to User Tasks Makes an Absolute Blueprint for an Effective Magazine Marketing Website   Continue Website Design Review Is Not Your Typical Ecommerce Website—or Is It? The Business Model is Based on the Internet’s Holy Trinity: Content, Community and Commerce and its Website Design is Perfectly Suitable   Continue Website Design Review Demonstrates That a Mequoda Internet Hub Can Be Informative, Attractive, Engaging and Smart, While Linking Visitors to Both its Own Satellite Sites and Those of Other Publishers   Continue Website Design Review

America’s Test Kitchen Website, a Network Hub Positioned to Extend Visitors from the Television to the Web to the Printed Word, Demonstrates Extraordinary Website Architecture in Satisfying Users’ Need for Added Value and Publisher’s Desire for Additional Revenue   Continue Website Design Review, the Online Home of Executive Travel Magazine, While Demonstrating Good Readability and Affordance, Tries to do Too Much From One Site, Causing Brand Confusion, Task Incompletion and Lack of Relationship Building   Continue Website Design Review

Website Design Critique of Reveals Functional Design Lacking Personality and Appeals to Loyalty Beyond the Dollar.   Continue Website Design Review

Readability, Aesthetics and Labeling Help’s Users Feel Right at Home, but Navigation and Affordance in’s Website Design are Confusing to Users, and Could be Losing Potential Sales   Continue

Personnel Policy Service Website Design Review

Personnel Policy Service Publishers is Plagued by Poor Organization and Uninspiring Graphic Design, Degrading a Site That Otherwise Offers Both Useful Free Content and Premium Products   Continue

Better Homes & Gardens Website Design Review

Mequoda Revisits a Review of Better Homes & Gardens’ Website Design to See What’s Been Improved Since Last Year, Finding its Strategic Intent Clearer, its Interactive Content Better, but its Affordance Still Lacking   Continue

The Daily Reckoning Website Design Review

The Daily Reckoning Website, a Network Hub for its Financial Newsletters and Services, Demonstrates Effective Website Design and Site Architecture that Supports User Tasks and Goals   Continue

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