Digital Journalism Exercises
Copyright © 1998 Elizabeth Osder

Critical Thinking -- Web Site Evaluations


It’s important that each of us to form opinions about what we like and what we don’t like on the web.  I’d like to get us started building our critical vocabulary by having each of you evaluate a major publishing site on the web.


Please come prepared to lead a brief discussion on your site and pass in the following evaluation form.



Site: ______________________________________________________


URL: ______________________________________________________




MISSION OF THE SITE:  What are the major attributes? 


ORGANIZATION:  What are the major sections and organizational elements of the site?  Does the interface have a metaphor?  Does it correspond to the organization of the core product?  Can you find what you want?  Do you understand the purpose of this site?  Can you draw a map or storyboard of the site?  What are the contents vs. the functions available on the site?


NAVIGATION:  How easy is it to navigate the site?  How many layers do you have to go through to get to the content?   What are the methods of navigation --text links, pull downs, image maps?


DESIGN:  What is the look of the site?  Dig up a few adjectives -- is it like an “old media?”   Is it clean, serious, entertaining, clear, colorful, etc.  How does the site use graphics?  Is it easy or hard to load?  Does it rely on text or iconography?


CONTENT:  What is unique about the content?  Does it suit the publication, the locale, and the mission of the site?  Is it original to the web or ported from another media?  How are stories presented?  How are they annotated?  How do they link to other sites?  How does advertising content relate to editorial content?  How is multimedia used?  How often is it updated?  Are there content alliances/partners?


COMMUNITY:  Does the site offer forums for discussion?  What is the “quality” of the discourse?   How does discussion relate to site contents?  Is this useful journalistically?


INTERACTIVITY: What about the site promotes utility and service to the reader/user/learner? What about the site is truly useful to the reader/user/learner?  What makes the site essential?  Is there an effort to promote service journalism?  What applications are available?  What tools is available?  Do interactive elements help make the site more compelling?


REVENUE:  How is this site making money?  Do they sell advertising?  Subscriptions?  Tickets?  Books or other premium services?  Is it a viable business or a hobby site?


IDEAL TO STEAL:  What aspect of the site would you want on your dream site?