Skip to Main Content

CGS 1555: Website Evaluation Activity

Open Web

Search engines are used to search for many different kinds of information, images, videos, and other content online. Some results will be freely available, while others will require a fee or subscription. Results will vary in quality, authority, and reliability.

Website Evaluation - 5 Criteria

Website evaluation checklist

  1. Currency - Is the information current? When was the page created? Has it been updated? Some topics are very timely, so it is important to pay attention to dates
  2. Relevance - Does this meet the needs of my research? Does the resource seem to match my search query? Is it the appropriate level for me? What topics are covered? Are the topics covered well? Are the graphics or images of high quality with identifying information? 
  3. Authority - Who is the author? How are they qualified to discuss this topic? What are the credentials of the authority? What is the reputation of the author? What is the reputation of the source/website? 
  4. Accuracy - Is the information reliable and verifiable? Has it been reviewed by anyone? Are there obvious spelling or grammar errors? *Remember that anyone can publish information on the web, many of whom will not have anyone to check their content.  
  5. Purpose - Why was this created, written, made? Is the information presented in an objective manner or is it obviously biased? 

Take a look at this quick video segment for some additional things to look for when evaluating a website. 

SIFT: the four moves


Investigate the source

Find trusted coverage

Trace claims, quotes ad media to the original context



When you're looking at a website, page, or other source - the first thing to do it STOP. Do you already know about this website, the source of the information, or the reputation of the source or claim? If not - you can follow the moves below to get a better idea of what you're looking at.

If you start to get overwhelmed with these other moves, remember to again STOP and think about the reasons for your research. 

Investigate the Source

Learn about the source - what is their expertise and agenda? Is it worth your time too look at this source? What do others say about your source? 

Find Trusted Coverage 

Sometimes you might investigate the claims of the source article - not only the source itself. Find trusted coverage or reporting on the claim to see what the consensus is of experts. 

Trace Claims, Quotes, and Media to the Original 

Trace the claims, quotes, media (photos, videos) back to the original source. Often photos, videos, and audio are used in a way that removes them from their original context. Trace back to the original source so that you can what actually happened - was the version you saw accurately presenting the information? 


Modified from Mike Caulfield's SIFT (Four Moves), which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License