How to evaluate a Business Website - Part II 12 Questions to ask on currency, accuracy and objectivity

Unlike print publications, it is difficult to determine the currency of a web page. Websites are notorious for dishing out outdated information and one should look out for currency and accuracy of coverage.

The questions to be asked for determining currency are:

  1. Are there dates on the page to indicate when the page was created or when it was last revised ?

  2. Is there any guide or information material to indicate how the information is kept current ?

  3. For financial information, is there an indication it was filed with concerned regulatory authority ?

  4. For material from the company's annual report, is the date of the report listed ?

  5. Regarding accuracy, the pertinent questions are:

  6. Has the company provided a link to outside sources such as product reviews or reports which can be used to verify company claims ?

  7. Has the sources of information clearly displayed ? Can it be easily verified ? For example, citing name of a newspaper as a source without publication date is not enough as the same can not be easily verified.

  8. Is the information free of grammatical, spelling, and typographical errors? Presence of such silly and easily avoidable errors not only reflect very poorly on quality consciousness of an organization but can also lead to inaccurate information.

  9. Regarding objectivity, pertinent questions are:

  10. For any given piece of information, is it clear what the company's motivation is for providing it ? Is there enough contextual information ? It is easy to mislead someone by providing information out of context - like Yudhisthir in Mahabharata - telling Dronacharya 'Ashthama is dead' without providing contextual information that 'Ashthama' is actually an elephant not Dronacharya's son - leading to death of Dronacharya.

  11. If there is advertising material in the page, can it be clearly differentiated from the informational content ?

  12. Regarding coverage - the questions to be asked are:

  13. Is there an indication that the page is complete in itself and is not under construction ?

  14. How elaborate is the description of a product ? Does it include important information like specifications, warranty etc. ?

  15. Is there any 'frequently asked questions' section or similar guide to help customers ?

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Source: FAIDA - Newsletter on Business Opportunties from India and Abroad Vol: 3, Issue 37 January 2' 2003

Author : Dr. Amit K. Chatterjee
(Amit worked in blue-chip Indian and MNCs for 15 years in various capacities like Research and Information Analysis, Market Development, MIS, R&D Information Systems etc. before starting his e-commerce venture in 1997. The views expressed in this columns are of his own. He may be reached at )

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