Site evaluation is a process in which a website is evaluated for the purpose of assessing how well it performs against a list of criteria or a rubric. Many different approaches can be used for site evaluations. They can also be conducted for different purposes, ranging from valuing a website so that it can be sold for a fair price to determining whether or not a website is a good source of information for an academic paper.
Some forms of site evaluation are designed for commercial purposes. For example, a website might be evaluated to determine whether or not it is an effective business tool. The evaluator would think about the purpose of the website, how the website is being used, and whether or not it is an effective communications method. This includes examining the website for clarity of information, readability, usefulness, and value of information.
A search engine optimization (SEO) evaluation is sometimes performed for the purpose of finding out whether or not a site will perform well in search engines. The evaluator considers the types of terms which people might use to find the site and examines the site to see how well ranked it will be in search engine results. If the site is poorly designed or is not optimized for search engines, the person performing the site evaluation may provide advice for improvement.
Websites can also be evaluated from a design perspective. Accessibility is a key issue with many websites, and there are online tools as well as consulting firms which will conduct a site evaluation and provide information about whether or not it is accessible to disabled users, such as users with visual impairments. Likewise, firms may evaluate a site with an eye to thinking about whether or not the aesthetics of the site reflect the firm itself.
Students and academics use site evaluation as a tool to determine whether or not a site is a valid source. This involves looking at the site to determine its level of authority for the purpose of finding out whether or not the information provided is useful. This includes determining who wrote the site, where it is hosted, how recent the information is, where the site links to, and which sites link to that site. Being able to critically evaluate websites to determine whether or not they provide actual useful information is a very important skill for students.