What's Different About Evaluating Websites?
It is particularly important that you evaluate any web resources you use (e.g. websites, blogs, wikis, etc.) because there is no editorial process for the web and anyone can post anything online. When evaluating web resources it is important to pay attention to details.
When evaluating websites, first ask yourself: How did you find the website?
In addition to following the C.R.A.A.P.O. guidelines for evaluating sources, consider these 3 special criteria to consider when evaluating websites:
Evaluating a website by its domain means that you are asking: What kind of website is it?
The domain is the end-part of the web site address. Most U.S.-based web sites use the following domains: .com, .org, .edu, and .gov. When evaluating websites, it's important to pay attention to the domain--this can provide valuable information about what the website may be used for, what information is available on the website, and how reliable it may be.
For example: compare Weather.com with Weather.gov. Both happen to be trusted web sites with good information. Weather.com is from the popular and well-known Weather Channel, while Weather.gov is from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a government agency.
The following is a description of the most popular Internet domains:
|DOMAIN EXTENSION||EXAMPLE||MOST COMMONLY USED FOR||TYPE OF INFORMATION AVAILBLE||RELIABILITY|
|.com||CNN: http://www.cnn.com/||commercial entity, business, or anything else||Could be anything (this is a non-restrictive domain); many media outlets end in .com||Low - Needs thorough evaluation|
|.org||American Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org/||organization, non-profit, or anything else||Could be anything (this is a non-restrictive domain); professional and medical organizations often use this domain||Low - Needs thorough evaluation|
|.edu||Southern New Hampshire University: http://www.snhu.edu/||educational institutions||Information about the institution, content created by professionals working at the institution (be careful - some institutions allow non-experts to develop content for their websites)||Medium - Needs evaluation|
|.gov||U.S. Census Bureau: http://www.census.gov/||Government agency or department||Local, City, State, & Federal information (information on these domains are regulated and require certification to be used)||High - Needs some evaluation|
For more information about domain extensions check out IANA: Root Zone Database and the video below:
Last Updated Date
Evaluating a website by its last updated date means that you are asking: How current is the information provided here?
Most high-quality websites include a "Last Updated Date" to help you determine the currency of the information being provided on the website or web page. The "Last Updated Date" often appears at the bottom of websites or below the title/author information of an article. You may also need to look for an "About Us" section to find this information. If no "Last Updated Date" (or publication date) is available, you may have found a website with out-of-date information!
You should also check for broken or outdated links as this can also be a sign that the website you are using has not been updated in a while. Check out this video for more information:
Functionality & Design
Evaluating a website by functionality and design means that you are asking: Is the web site functional and professional looking?
When considering the functionality and design of a website, ask yourself:
What to avoid?
|EXAMPLES||QUESTIONS TO ASK|
|Vegetarian Resource Group||Is the information easy to locate? Can you use a search box? Is it modern looking?|
|The White House||How well is the information organized? Is the site laid out in a logical manner?|
|Space Jam||Is the information easy to locate? Can you use a search box? Is it modern looking?|