There are basic parts of a Web page that can provide information about the purpose, sponsors, and currency of a website. We can use this information to help us evaluate the site and determine if it is relevant for research needs.
Standard Web page elements include the following:
Located at the very top of the browser window, the title bar should describe the content of that particular page and may also list the sponsor of the site.
The URL, or Uniform Resource Locater, provides the Internet address of the site. Standard formats for URLs consist of the following elements:
Every Internet address includes the protocol, server name, and domain.
Domain names reflect the type of organization which sponsors the site, and can be useful in identifying the intended purpose of a site. Examples of domain types include:
.edu = educational
.gov = government
.com = commercial
.org = non-profit organization
.net = network
.mil = military
.museums = museums
The tilde symbol, represented as ~, which appears in a directory (see example below) is often reflective of personal home pages which may reside on an institutional server, but are not official or authorized by the sponsoring institution. Use a critical eye to evaluate personal home pages, as they may be based on opinion or personal beliefs rather than research.
A Header should include information to identify the title of the site or page, as well as the institution or sponsoring party, and may provide a hyper-link to that site.
The body of the Web page contains the main content and should provide us with information to determine the purpose and intended audience of the site.
Footer should include the date the site was created or revised, author or contact person, as well as contact information, and the party or institution sponsoring the site.
For more information, see the library's checklist of five criteria for Evaluating Web Sites.