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Evaluating Websites

A printable copy of the content on this webpage.


What is the purpose of the website? Why was the page created? 

There are many reasons for the creation of a website.

  • Information – laws, rules, news, etc.
  • Entertainment – games, magazines, gossip, celebrities, etc.
  • Advertise/sell a product
  • Influence beliefs/views – legal, moral, political issues
  • Personal enjoyment – pages created by individuals not affiliated with any group or organization.

Sponsor / Owner

Take note of the domain suffix of the website. It's getting more difficult to make generalizations based on the domain suffix, but it may provide clues about the nature of the website.

  • Government agency (.gov)
  • Educational institution (.edu)
  • Business/company (.com)
  • Association (.org)
  • News bureau  (.com)
  • Personal (.com) – Anyone can put up a website for any purpose; use these sites with caution.

Authority / Author

Who is responsible for creating the content of the webpage?  Check the copyright statement at the bottom of the website or read the “About Us” section. 


  •  Is the author an expert in the field?
  •  Are the author’s credentials  posted?  
  •  Are they accurate and verifiable?
  •  What else has the author written?
  •  Is contact information provided?



Check out the Content of the website or webpage.

  • Is there a review process or selection policy for the information on the site?
  • Is the topic covered comprehensively, partially, or is it an overview?
  • Is the content reasonable? Does it make unbelievable claims?  It is helpful to know a bit about your subject.  Compare several quality sites for consistency.
  • Are original sources linked or cited?
  • Where does the money come from to support the site?
  • Can you tell the advertisements from the health information? Are the ads clearly labeled?


Some webpages have built-in bias that will impact all of the content.

Is the author or sponsor:

  • Left/liberal? Right/conservative? Center?
  • A political action group or association (PAC)?
  • Business?
  • Issue-oriented?

Page Organization

A well-designed, professionally prepared web page may be a sign that the information contained on it is reliable, but not always. Spelling and grammatical errors are a red flag that the page you are on is not professional or scholarly. Broken links may be a sign that the site is not maintained. Illustrations should be clear in intent, relevant and professional looking. They should enhance the content and not clutter the page.

  • Is the page organized and focused?
  • Is it well designed?
  • Is the text well written?
  • Are the links relevant and appropriate? Do the links work?
  • Are the graphics clear in intent, relevant and professional looking?
  • Do the graphics add to or enhance the content?


When was the web page created or last revised? In some disciplines, currency is critical (e.g., medicine, the sciences). Check to see if the links are up-to-date.


Website usefulness will be subjective to a large extent. Ask yourself if the website is relevant and age-appropriate for your needs.

  • Does the website support or refute an argument?
  • Does it provide "wrong" information that can be readily challenged?
  • Is the page for general readers? Students (elementary, middle school, high school, college)?Specialists or professionals?Researchers or scholars?



Looking at a website's security may be less concerning for research/academia and more of a concern during personal use. Security on a website can never be 100% guaranteed. 

  • Are security and/or encryption systems visible if you are making a purchase?
  • Does the site ask for personal information? If so, what will they do with the personal information? Check the privacy policy.

Remember also, online Health Searches are NOT Confidential

  • According to a study (Privacy Implications of Health Information Seeking on the Web)
    Most Health-Related Websites Share Personal Info With Third-Parties - See more at:
    Most Health-Related Websites Share Personal Info With Third-Parties - See more at:
    Most Health-Related Websites Share Personal Info With Third-Parties - See more at:
    , 90% of websites provide personal health information to 3rd parties.