3. Evaluating resources

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3.2 Structural design

This refers to the physical appearance of the resource, its logic and navigability.

  • is the information arranged logically?

  • A good resource should have a very logical arrangement of information. It should be easy to see what information is available, and links should be arranged to facilitate sensible navigation through a given topic.

  • is it easy to navigate the resource?

  • Navigability is one of the most important features of any Internet resource. A good resource should encourage seamless movement between sections of data. It should always be simple to return to previous locations and to the top level of a resource.

  • are hyperlinks ambiguous, i.e., is it obvious where a link is leading you to?

  • Links within a resource should always be clearly labelled to ensure that the user is aware of moving from one location to another. Links should also always state clearly where they are pointing. `Click here' type links are difficult to use because they require the user to read around the link to understand its destination.

  • are there good back and forward links between pages?

  • A good resource will always provide navigational links between locations and back to the top level. This facilitates navigability.

  • do you ever find yourself in a position where there are no hyperlinks to anywhere else?

  • All locations within a resource should have some kind of navigational link backwards or to the top level. It is poor web design to structure a document that has no links anywhere within it. A user may find it by chance and be unable to navigate to the top level and find out more about the author or the resource as a whole.

  • is the information within a resource arranged consistently?

  • Consistency within a resource facilitates navigability and an overall understanding of the information presented. For example, a set of web documents that have no visual similarities can be disorienting.

  • is the grammar and spelling accurate?

  • A good resource will have been checked as thoroughly as a printed item for publication. In other words, it should have accurate grammar and spelling. Many resources fail to check such things before publication and this may indicate poor quality in some.

  • are images used effectively or are they over-done?

  • Within a web document, for example, it is important to balance the usage of text and images. Overuse of images can reduce the quality of a resource because it can detract from the information and it can dramatically hinder the downloading of the resource. A good resource will not succumb to the temptation to fill a document with attractive and clever images purely because it is possible. It will use images effectively to enhance the information contained within the document, to enhance navigability and to provide resources in their own right.

  • is the resource viewable effectively (i.e., without loss of essential information and navigability) in non-graphical browsers?

  • A good resource should be compatible with all Internet browsers. Non-graphical browsers should be included in this category, and ideally a resource should not become defunct when viewed with one. Obviously, images are not viewable in such a browser, and therefore it is not appropriate to evaluate such a resource on the basis of its compatibility with one.

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