Our Review Process

How We Review Websites

Our website reviews are written collaboratively by a team of medical professionals from across the nation. These expert reviewers have backgrounds in clinical practice, research, patient advocacy, and public policy.

HealthWeb Navigator employs over 50 different reviewers and assigns at least two reviewers to every website to corroborate our ratings.

We use an innovative review system that takes into account two broad components for each website listed: its content, as well as its usability.

Both of these components are broken down into the following review criteria:

Ease of Use

Ease of Use refers to how easily visitors can find information on a website. This review category incorporates elements of site navigation, searchability, and organization.

Our reviewers score Ease of Use using a modified version of the System Usability Scale. This test is the industry standard method to quickly and reliably test a wide variety of products, including websites:

1. I think I would like to use this site frequently.
2. I found the website unnecessarily complex.
3. I thought the website was easy to use.
4. I think that I would need the support of a technical person to be able to use this website.
5. I found the various functions in this website were well integrated.
6. I thought there was too much inconsistency in this website.
7. I would imagine that most people would learn to use this website very quickly.
8. I found the website very cumbersome to use.
9. I felt very confident using the website.
10. I needed to learn a lot of things before I could get going with this website.

Visual Appeal

Visual Appeal refers to a user’s subjective experience of how well a website looks. Our reviewers develop a first-glance impression of each website’s visual layout and then answer four prompts adapted from the Visual Aesthetics of Websites inventory.

Instead of assessing navigation and organization, the following prompts help measure the user’s experience of a website’s visual design:

1. The layout is easy to grasp.
2. The layout is pleasantly varied.
3. The color composition is attractive.
4. The layout appears professionally designed.

Quality

Quality refers to a website’s informational content. The quality of a website’s content is affected by how clear, reliable, relevant, and balanced the information is.

Our content reviewers score Quality using a modified version of the DISCERN questionnaire, a time-tested instrument developed by the UK's National Health Service:

1. The website has clear aims/purpose/mission.
2. The website achieves its stated aims/purpose/mission.
3. The website’s content is relevant to the reader’s needs and expectations.
4. The website provides adequate references to information that was used when creating content (other than the author/producer).
5. The website’s content is balanced and unbiased.
6. The website provides additional sources of support and information.

Credibility

Credibility refers to the the ways a website discloses who writes the content, the writers’ qualifications, how current the information is, and any relevant financial motivations.

Reviewers assess Credibility using Silberg’s accountability criteria, which was later incorporated into the JAMA benchmarks:

1. The website clearly credits the authors of its health content.
2. Content authors are appropriately credentialed in relevant fields/specialities.
3. The website's owner (whether individual, group, or institution) is clearly disclosed and credible.
4. The website’s pages specify a recent date of creation and/or date of last update.

Usability consultants review each website’s Ease of Use and Visual Appeal. Health professionals are responsible for reviewing the Quality and Credibility.

Reviewers rate each of the above questions on a 1-5 scale and provide written support, which forms the basis of the final website review.

What Our Ratings Mean

Based on the reviewer’s scores and comments, websites are given one of three possible ratings:

Highly Recommended websites are among the very best resources in our collection. These websites score highly in both content AND usability.

Recommended websites are reliable, but there may be a few issues with the website’s content or usability. Some of the information could be limited, difficult to find, or not completely up-to-date.

Not Recommended websites contain inaccurate or questionable health content that our health reviewers advise readers to avoid.

You can read more about our editorial standards in our Editorial Policy.

Comments or suggestions? Let us know.

Health Web Navigator