Evaluating Web-based Finding Tools

Should the selection of Web-based finding aids -- the tools librarians advise patrons to use -- demand evaluation criteria beyond the basic five?

Selection Criteria: site guidelines that spell out measurements for resource selection. The Social Science Information Gateway offers an excellent example of such criteria.
Design: presentation, navigability, and overall ease of use. How does the site look? Is it well-organized, easy to follow? How fast does it load? Is the font-size legible? Are colors and graphics distracting? Do the links works?
Help Documentation and Support: readily-accessible materials that explain how to use the site and its resources. Does the site guide novice users (e.g., "new to the site?")? Are help links available on every page? Are they easy to find? Does it suggest additional ways to find related information? Is contact information available and easy to find?
Performance: site stability and availability. Is there minimal down time? Do the links work? What is the page load time? Is it consistent? 
Maintenance: closely related to timeliness -- one of the basic five criteria, this refers to the regular revision of a site in order to keep links and information up to date. Evaluators should consider clearly dated and labeled archival sites.
Audience: target group, including age, language, reading ability, interests, etc. Is the site appropriate for younger audiences? Does it target a certain group (e.g., doctors) or the general public? What is the reading level?

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COPYRIGHT: 2001 Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP all rights reserved.

This chart appears in Teaching Internet Research Skills, a teaching Web of The Virtual Chase at URL https://www.virtualchase.com/researchskills/quality5.html.