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The purpose of evaluation and how do we evaluate?

Websites can always be improved and should be constantly revisited to ensure they are fit for purpose.  The web strategy should remain flexible and meet the needs of users, needs that can be established through regular information needs assessments (INAs).


Website evaluation is a key issue for those responsible for designing, maintaining, endorsing and assessing the impact of interventions designed to influence health and health services.  New technologies are emerging with promises of making changes within systems and improving the workforce through learning, communication etc., and it is essential to conduct thoughtful and careful evaluations covering impact, outcomes, the users and the world in which they function.

Tools

There is no standard tool in existence to perform an evaluation of a website, which may have many functions and objectives.

A website may be used as a collaboration tool between individuals, a place where current awareness services such as news and research information is provided, a professional development hub with elearning modules, a repository of information relating to a work stream and a place from which information is disseminated to the public,  and many more uses.

Not one assessment tool can assess all these purposes. There are proposed mechanisms of assessments in published literature and the UK Health Forum has developed a flexible tool drawing on specific thoughts of evaluation, looking at the Internet as:

  • an effective communication tool of interactive processes

  • a component within a health care system together with other components such as health promotion, care and mass media

  • where technical aspects and content are compared to quality standards

  • a tool to disseminate content where we assess quality of content, credibility, navigability, currency and readability.

 

Information needs assessments (INAs)

Any website which aim to disseminate information, interact with users or aim to stimualte collaborations between individuals and groups will benefit from regular Information Needs Assessments (INAs). INAs are there to ensure that the needs of the community are met, that the technologies support the objectives of the network and that the web development strategy remains flexible as needs change.

We have several years experience of undertaking needs assessments looking at information needs and behaviour of individuals in public health.


Combining evaluations for results

A combination of evaluations assessing fit for purpose from a technical and content point of view and the results of needs assessments will provide you with the requirements for how fit for purpose your website is and where improvements can be made.

If you would like us to evaluate your website or information service, please contact us.