Local web development shop HotHouse Interactive hopes to extend its reach beyond traditional site building activities after scoring the rights to market Forrester Research's Web Site Review Program.
HotHouse founder Simon van Wyk said Forrester first approached the company, which has developed sites for Toyota and Solution 6 amongst others, four months ago.
"We've tried from the day we started to give a lot of thought to the way sites work and the whole user experience," he told iTNews. "This deal has put a more formal framework around that. It gives us a tool we can take out to the market with the recognition of the Forrester brand."
The program works around a series of 25 basic research-based rules which are used to analyse site effectiveness. HotHouse is the second international licensee for the product, following a similar deal in Japan.
While many web design businesses have found the going tough in recent years, van Wyk said that recognition of the value of websites has become stronger in recent years.
"I think the dotcom collapse muddied the waters. It put a lot of punters out of business, but the fundamentals of the internet never changed throughout that period. It's got to the point now where the web's a mass-market medium."
"What's driving this is that companies have moved from 'let's have a site' to 'let's get business benefits out of our site and justify our existence'," said Forrester vice president and principal analyst Harley Manning.
Forrester has been undertaking the site critique program since 1998.
"Sites in general are getting slightly better, but on the whole not a lot better," said Manning. "Redesigns often introduce new problems to sites and make them measurably worse."