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Evaluating Websites

Applying the CRAAP Test

When you're evaluating a website, how do you put the CRAAP test to use? What information on the website communicates the core elements of the CRAAP test?

Here are a few examples of things to look for on a website that can help you use the CRAAP test: 

Navigation bar: this will help you answer questions about authority and purpose.
  • Any well-constructed website should have a navigation bar, somewhere along the top or side of the website, to help you easily travel to the different pages on the site. This should include links to important information about the organization publishing the website, for example. A lack of a navigation bar, or an unclear navigation bar, does not give the site much credibility.
"About Us" page: this will help you answer questions about authority and purpose. 
  • On any website, look for information about the organization publishing the site. A lack of an "about us" page should raise a red flag for you: why won't this organization tell you who they are and why they have created this site?
Mission statement: this will help you answer questions about authority, relevance, and purpose. 
  • Reputable and authoritative organizations will post their mission statement prominently on their website to tell visitors why their website was created and what type of information you will find on their site.
Citations: these will help you answer questions about currency, authority, and accuracy. 
  • Anything that is written by an outside source and quoted or referred to on the website should be clearly cited, and you should be able to find those citations very easily! If the website offers information from an outside party, but does not offer citations or links to the original content, that diminishes the accuracy and reliability of the information. Citations and links will also help you evaluate the currency of the information on the website.
URL: this will help you answer questions about purpose and authority.
  • Examining the website's URL (Uniform Resource Locator) will tell you something about the author of the website, and perhaps whether or not they are an expert in the field. For more information on evaluating a URL, see our URL page.
Advertisements: these will help you answer questions about purpose.
  • Almost every website contains advertisements of some kind, but pay attention to who is advertising on the website and how many advertisements appear. Websites that contain a lot of advertisements probably make a lot of their money from hosting advertisements; this means that their content may support, in part or in whole, the agenda of the companies and organizations advertising on their site. Ask yourself who gains from advertisements, what the ads support, and who (or what company) is paying for a website's content. 
Test the Links: this will help you answer questions about currency, authority, and accuracy.
  • Don't just sit on one page, click around through the website! If a website contains broken links, or links that take you to pages that don't exist anymore, this is a good indicator that the website is either out-of-date and no longer currently maintained, or that it was never a credible resource at all. Similarly, pay attention to which outside websites the site links to - if those outside websites don't provide good information or provide extremely biased information, that has bearing on the first website as well!