Evaluating Websites using Flowcharts

“Don’t make something unless it’s both necessary and useful. But if it is both necessary and useful, don’t hesitate to make it beautiful” – Josh Porter

The internet is a reservoir of information, and there are a large number of resources designed to help professionals and students in the exercise of evaluating websites. However, resources are lacking that describe the actual process of this exercise – and unless people / students are able to read and understand a website, they would be unable to evaluate it. Flowcharts are a brilliant and simple tool that diagrammatically represents the step by step process of evaluating websites – similar to their usefulness in describing any process. In the actual world, flowcharts are meant to help with designing, evaluating, documenting and even regulating a process across several fields. Using a flowchart would help users to understand the structure and composition of both existing and planned websites. When trying to gauge the usefulness or effectiveness of a website, flowcharts would help to provide a broad and holistic overview of the content, features, and functionalities, while enabling an understanding of future amendments and or additions.

In the exercise of evaluating websites, users would find a huge amount of information, but all of it may not necessarily be useful or good. It becomes important therefore to make a checklist of questions that would help make better use of the information to appraise websites. The most important thing to check is the currentness of the information. It is important to check the date of the information, check whether the content has been recently revised or updated, whether the links provided actually work, and other time related aspects. The next point to consider would be the relevance of the information with regard to your need of evaluating websites. It should provide answers to your questions, be detailed yet understandable, the manner of writing and the target audience, and importantly whether the source of information is an authority figure with qualification and credentials to write about the subject. Sometimes the site of the information provides information about the author in order to establish relevance – check this as well.

When searching for information with the aim of evaluating websites, it is critical to check for accuracy, reliability, and honesty of the information. The information must be unbiased – free of religious, political, personal, or other emotional biases, free from emotion, supported by hard evidence, and be verifiable through other sources. It should be error free from the aspects of punctuation, spellings, grammar, and other such aspects. While it is tempting to use the first source of information you find to begin evaluating websites, but it is necessary to check whether the knowledge piece is based on fact or opinion. Understanding the actual purpose of the data in terms of what is intended for – marketing, selling, teaching, purely for entertainment or some other reason.  

Once you are able to decide as to which source or sources of information you would like to use, the next step is to actually put it to use. Prepare a flowchart with the relevant information, which will make it easier to evaluate a website. As mentioned, so much information can be overwhelming, hence putting it down in a visually appealing format such as a flowchart, will help users be more proficient in actually assessing the relevance of a website with the culled information.

For a business / start up planning to redesign or build a new website, it would make sense to prepare a flowchart that would outline the design, structure, and content of the website. Using the visual and easy to comprehend format of a flowchart, it would be easier to prepare a website that would be high on both user experience (UX) and user interface (UI). Designing, developing, and refining all the necessary components and functionalities becomes a lot easier when the process is put down in a step by step graphical representation in the form of a flowchart.

Evaluating websites using flowcharts makes sense since the thoughts and ideas that would drive the essence of a website, would be significantly easier to visualize than being able to put the ideas in words. Using symbols, shapes, and colors – the essence of flowcharts – raise the efficacy of planning a new website or redesigning an existing one, since they would help to explain thoughts and ideas better. By providing a structure to thoughts and ideas, it becomes a lot easier to visualize what the new website would look like, and how it would appear and be used by the target audience. A clear picture of how the website should look and function, would make it easier to put together the actual website, which would look and function exactly the way it was envisioned. Using flowcharts to evaluate and envision websites will make it easier to draw customer to the sales funnel, since each page would be designed so as to influence their decision in the favour of your business. Use flowcharts to evaluate your websites on all these parameters before ‘going live’.

Websites that have first been mapped out using flowcharts, would have a better chance at success. The visual representation of the different pages, functionalities, graphics, colors, and other features will help make better connections and form sensible relationships between each feature, enabling the pages to precisely simulate and display hyper textual content. Once the website has been visualized, preparing it would be faster and more efficient. Double checking by way of evaluating websites again using flowcharts will clearly manifest whether the website will serve its intended purpose and run efficiently as envisioned.

The numerous templates provided for flowcharts make evaluating websites and other processes a lot simpler. Such templates are easy to edit, and are user friendly, and can be saved for future use as well. Even if you do not achieve your intended goal with the first cut of the flowchart, it is easy to go back to the start point, reassess, make changes, and alter the flowchart as required. In the endeavour of evaluating websites using flowcharts, users can easily go back to the search results of the information (as mentioned above) and start over.

To make a good flowchart for evaluating websites, cross checking information is always a good idea. It would make sense to view similar websites to the one that you intend to evaluate, such that you would be able to corroborate the culled information. Even if you consider multiple perspectives while evaluating websites, a single flowchart with the relevant information is all you would need to successfully assess the website (s) in question.

Using flowcharts would help users to distinguish genuine information from falsehood. This is a critical aspect in the exercise of website evaluation – though not the only one. Putting analytical ability and critical thinking to good use is also extremely important when making an evaluation, and these skills will help users become proficient in the task of evaluating websites. Students especially must practice these skills in coordination with classroom learning. Conducting research, putting down findings, and becoming proficient in using flowcharts will help students and others to swiftly, effectively, and intuitively be able to make informed and intelligent assessments of not just websites, but any other subject that may require intense assessment.

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