How to Evaluate Web Sites

By: Dr. Dee McGonigle


There are many ways to evaluate WWW sites. Here is a five step plan:


Step 1: Authority

Who is/are the author(s)? Describe each authorís authority or expertise. Are professional qualifications afforded? How can you contact the author(s)? Who is the siteís sponsor? Is the site copyright protected?


Step 2: Timeliness and Continuity

When were the site materials created? When did it become active on the WWW? When was it updated/revised last? Are the links up-to-date? Are the links functional? When was data gathered? What version/edition is it?


Step 3: Purpose

Who is the targeted audience? What is the purpose? Are the goals/aims/objectives clearly stated?


Step 4: Content: Accuracy and Objectivity

Does the information provided meet the purpose? Who is accountable for accuracy? Are the cited sources verifiable? What is the value of the content of this site related to your topical needs? How complete and accurate is the content information and links? Is the site biased? Does it contain advertisements?


Step 5: Structure and Access

Does the site load quickly? Do multimedia, graphics, and art used on the page serve a purpose or are they just decorative or fun? Is there an element of creativity? Is there appropriate interactivity? Is the navigation intuitive? Are there icons? Is this a secured site?


Based on the answers to each evaluative step above, you should have a clear picture as to the significance and value of the site as it relates to your topical needs. This is the tool that I designed and use. However, there are many evaluative tools available as referenced below*:

Thinking Critically about World Wide Web Resources by Esther Grassian, UCLA College Library

Evaluating Internet Research Sources Robert Harris, Southern California College

Evaluating World Wide Web Information Ann Scholz Purdue University Libraries

How to Critically Analyze Information Sources Revised October 20, 1996. Joan Ormondroyd, Michael Engle and Tony Cosgrave Reference Services Division, Olin Kroch Uris Libraries Cornell University Library

Trudi Jacobson, Coordinator of User Education Programs and Laura Cohen, Network Services Librarian University At Albany Libraries



*Caveat: URLs come and go on the ever-evolving WWW. All of the URLs within this section were available on August 10, 1998 and reflected the content cited at that time. There are no guarantees, therefore, that these sites will remain on the WWW in this form.