Building a web page is not unlike building a library collection. Those developing web resources, like those developing library collections, are faced with many decisions related to the purpose of their efforts, meeting user needs, the relationship among items collected, and the quality of individual items. ultimately, that which is selected is only a relatively small portion of the available universe of resources. Most selectors employ explicit or implicit criteria to guide their decisions although selection of library materials or web resources is not amenable to formulaic guidelines. Decisions are conditioned by numerous factors including the nature of the subject under consideration, the use of the collection, and the nature and needs of the anticipated audience.



The guidelines below are intended to illuminate some factors commonly considered by selectors experienced in identifying web resources or building web pages. Most selectors report that much depends upon the purposes of a particular project. Keep in mind that these are guidelines&endash;not absolutes, and that a resource does not have to meet all of the criteria to be acceptable.


The quality of a web resource is variously indicated by its uniqueness, accuracy, comprehensiveness, lack of bias, or breadth of scope. high quality sites are often noted for the extent to which they include unique information and serve as a primary resource on a subject. Comprehensiveness is also indicative of a quality site although a compilation of well selected links is much preferred to a large number of links of mixed quality or usefulness. Sites that provide information are preferred to those that simply point to others although well organized and annotated collections of links are often judged useful by selectors.


Consider the extent to which the resource is in scope for the subject and appropriate for the level and purposes of the intended users. Language and country coverage should be appropriate for the subject involved and the intended audience.



The design and organization of the site should be logical and visually appealing. Good organization is generally indicated by a consistency of graphics and style. Annotated links to other sites are considered useful to help the user move through the information.

Ease of Use

Assess if the site is easy to load in terms of consistency of access and speed of loading. If special software is required, is it linked to the site, easily located, and free? Navigational aids should be provided for longer pages and if searchable, the search interface should be readily understood.

Reliability &


Consider the credibility, institutional affiliation, authority, status, and reputation of a site. The source of information should be clearly identified. If the site is the creation of an individual, the individual should be considered authoritative by such measures as institutional affiliation or peer review. A name and e-mail address of a contact person or group should be available for user contact.



Look for evidence, such as last update, that the site is regularly maintained, links are active and information is current.



Consider the impact of subscription fees for commercial sites or other possible barriers to access such as registration requirements, time limitations, or stringent copyright restrictions. While such restrictions are not necessarily a basis for exclusion of a site, the impact on users should be considered.

Local Orientation


Sites created by individuals or units affiliated with the University of Michigan should be given extra consideration to the extent that they may reflect local interests, needs, or resources or more commonly be referred to in the course of University activities. While it is important to keep in mind that most of the Library's pages are accessible nationally, it might still be useful to accentuate the local character of our efforts.



It is undeniable that web resources are judged both for content and visual appeal in ways that differ from our evaluation of print scholarly resources. Excellent design clearly adds value to web pages although should not be a substitute for excellent content. It is sometimes useful to look at a resource with a text browser such as Lynx or with the images turned off to judge the extent and quality of content independent of graphics. It should be considered that Gopher resource and ASCII documents may have a high degree of scholarly value to specialized users.

Range of


While of potentially great scholarly use, the web differs from print scholarly publications both in its accessibility to a wider audience and for the potential to engage readers in dialogue about posted materials. In the context of the web, scholarly resources&endash;presented in traditional scholarly prose&endash;can sometimes be enhanced by juxtaposition of more popular resources on a subject or by inclusion of comments from a broader and not necessarily academic audience.

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