Silktide’s Nibbler is yet another automatic website testing service designed to give you an insight into your website quality. As is usually the case, you just type in your URL and the tester takes off, giving you a judgement on your website within a few minutes.
We’ve found in the past that autotesters tend to be inconsistent and inaccurate, but we still like to try them out from time to time. It’s easy to get complacent about your website, even if you take care of websites for a living. If you do something else for a living, it’s easy to ignore your website until it does nothing for you at all.
Nibbler provides an animated, starry sky sort of screen to keep you entertained while you search and if you need a break from work, you could do worse.
Within just a few minutes, you’ll get 17 reports on various things you might be able to improve.
In the case of the website you’re visiting now, the tester caught a few things we knew about — yes, I use borders on screenshots in my blog posts fairly often rather than going in and setting it up in the CSS, and no we don’t have printable versions of our pages.
Other reports include freshness of content, whether your URLs are properly formed, whether you have analytics in place, and how good you look on mobile devices.
We didn’t have any surprises for our website, but this tool will alert you if there are some issues in your website. The paid version even checks your spelling.
How valuable is it for your company website? I figure it’s always good to find areas where you can improve. This might even motivate me to get in there and fix up my CSS. But I see so many websites that aren’t doing their jobs because they have duplicate content or unreadable pages that I tend not to be as concerned with the finer points of a well-functioning website.
Rosie saw more than that. “It’s really useful for seeing what you need to improve,” she says, “but I think it’s best for checking out your competitors and seeing where they’re pulling ahead.”
That’s a good point. When we get super busy, we may skip writing perfect meta descriptions for all our blog posts, and that’s okay — as long as our competitors are also being lazy about their meta descriptions.
“I don’t even know what they’re talking about for some of these things,” Rosie admitted, which makes sense since she’s the business person on our team, not one of the tech people, “but I know I have feelings about it.” The simple, digestible nature of the report makes it more useful to her than most of the site checkers we’ve used before.
Nibbler also sets benchmarks, which can be hard to come up with for websites. Nibbler will tell you that your site has a 9.1 for Facebook or an 8.4 for your amount of content, so you have a baseline and can work on getting to those 10 scores.
On the other hand, Amazon got a 5.7 and NPR got a 7.0, both lower than our scores, so Nibbler might not have all the answers.
Final recommendation: use Nibbler when you want a quick web grade, because it’s quick and easy to understand. Don’t think it takes the place of analytics or expert input.