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HTML Section: Formative Evaluation

Formative evaluation is the process of examining and revising a product before publishing. Always check your project on a variety of systems. Use different web browsers, a variety of computer systems, slow and fast Internet connections, small and large screens, and different computer platforms.

Before you post your project on the web, you'll want to do some extensive evaluation. It's a good idea to use multiple reviewers in this process. Consider a separate reviewer for each of the following areas.

Page Layout

Ask someone to examine the overall look of your pages. They should look for consistency in the use of text, graphics, lines, and other elements. Is the page easy-to-read? What about the use of white space? Is the layout parallel between pages?

Rather than filling the screen with text, make use of white space. Indent text and include a space between paragraphs. Consider using horizontal lines between sections. If the page becomes more than three pages long, consider breaking it into pieces. Use the power of linking.

Organization & Sequence

Ask an average potential user to try the project. Is the content well-organized? Can the user sense a logic in the order and presentation of information? How long does the user take to make their way through the information? Is this important?

Content Accuracy

An expert in the subject matter of the content should examine the page for accuracy. Is the information accurate? What about spelling, grammar, and writing style? Is the information appropriate for the audience?

Navigation Links

Do the links work properly? Is the navigation easy to follow so users don't get lost in hyperspace?

High and Low Level

If students will be using the tool in a classroom setting, ask a low ability and high ability learner to try the program. Compare the length of time they spend with the program and the difficulties they encounter along the way.

Technical Aspects

Ask a web developer to check the technical aspects of the program. Do graphics load in a reasonable time? Do sounds and movies work properly? Is the HTML code efficient?

Overall Evaluation

Finally, ask someone to simply "look it over." What are their overall impressions? What do they view as the strengths and weaknesses of the pages? Did they find the site interesting or boring?

Use the information you collect to update your web pages. You may need to do a number of formative evaluations before you feel confident enough to place the project on the web for the world to see. You may wish to continue gathering feedback for revision even after posting the project. Consider adding a feedback link where users can email you with their suggestions.

Learn More

To learn more about browsers, go to QuirksMode and click on Browsers. Explorer some of the issues with designing for different browsers.

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