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Module 1 Basic Site Evaluation: Lesson 1
Web Design Intro
Module 1 Basic Site Evaluation: Lesson 1

Module 1 Basic Site Evaluation: Lesson 1

Author: Melissa Cunningham
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Lesson 1: Surveying the Possibilities

Learning Targets

At the completion of this exercise:

  • you will have learned to critically evaluate websites.
  • you will have learned the criteria that experts use to evaluate websites


It is tempting in a web design course to plunge in and start right away creating and developing web pages. However, since our goal is for you to learn to develop high-quality websites, we first must spend some time developing an understanding of what "quality" means. This is important because if websites aren't developed with quality in mind, visitors might be unable to find the content or features they're looking for, or they may be unable to access or use these features. Users don't give websites many chances. If they don't like a site, they may leave quickly and never return. If they like a site, they'll return to it again and again, plus they'll tell others about it.

In addition to understanding website quality, you must spend some time planning a website before you begin to develop its content. Just as there are pre-writing steps that ought to be done prior to writing an essay, there are pre-coding steps to do before you create a website. Planning ahead will reduce the number of mistakes you'll make while constructing the site. In the work world, this will save you time and money.


What do the experts say? Visit the websites listed below. Each of these resources provides someone else's opinions as to what constitutes high-quality websites. 

WWW Cyberguide Ratings for Web Site Design
Jakob Nielsen: Ten Usability Heuristics
Designing a Web Site for Yale University Library
AskTOG: First Principles of Interaction Design

Which of these resources do you most agree with? Do you disagree with any of these authors' opinions? Find 3 things you find interesting from learning what the experts say about web page design analysis.  Record those three things on your Lesson 1 Sheet (on Schoology).

Become a web critic. Individually, visit 4 websites.  Look for good and bad examples of each type in your search. Keep detailed notes about what you observe. Record as many examples as you are able to find. Of those you evaluate, identify which one is the highest quality website, and which one is the lowest.

Rate each site from 1 to 5 (5 being the highest).

  • Comment on the site's design. Does the site look good? What is the eye drawn to immediately?
  • Comment on the site's content. What seems to be the main purpose of the site? Is the purpose clear?
  • Comment on the site's noteworthy features. How do the features enhance the site's main purpose?

Use the table on the Lesson 1 Sheet (on Schoology) to evaluate the 4 Websites:

Print and save for lesson 2.