Hello everyone! Intern Porter here. As a college student, internet use comes into my life all the time; from researching, to online shopping, or for just killing time. But, like most young adults, I live a fast-paced life and don't have time for a slow-paced website. The way your website is designed will effect the readers ability to easily navigate the site, and the content of the site needs to be reliable. A disorganized or confusing site map with too much clutter will be time consuming to read. The design and layout of your website is so important to retaining your audience. If I visit a seemingly dated website while conducting research online for an upcoming paper, I probably won't hang around long. Even if the content is 100% accurate I still associate it with it's surroundings. Now I want to go over some of the things you should be on the look out for when researching.
To begin my research I usually go to well known websites such as The New York Times or USA Today. I know these as credible sources to begin finding information. The internet is full of people who write whatever they want and it may or may not be true. It is important to be weary of this and stay away from Wikipedia for this reason because it is all consumer written. Most of it is true, but some of the information is false.
Online libraries are amazing, you can find all of the information you need from multiple different mediums such as books, websites, magazines, or newspapers. Most colleges will also have online libraries with research databases. Using a database is my particular favorite method of research, because it's the easiest. By searching on a database you know you are getting information that is credible and in most instances has been peer reviewed by other qualified professors. Many scholarly articles come up from a variety of different places, by doing this you are digging the deepest and getting the most raw information. Most news articles had to get their information from multiple other sources. The fewer middlemen there are in your research the better and more accurate.
Research Your Source
A great way to evaluate your source online is to check your author's credentials. If you have a doctor claiming to know the reasons behind skin cancer, you should check to see that they really are a dermatologist with 15+ years of experience. Remember that anyone can write anything online while claiming to be anyone, so diligence is key to credible research. You can also dig deeper and read the other articles on the site to make sure it can be trusted. If you're in the middle of creating website content of your own to educate others on your industries services, this is something to keep in mind.
Websites can be classified with many different "signatures" known as TLD's or top level domains. The most common one's are .com or .org because anyone can register for either of these. So when visiting one of those sites be sure you know the information is credible by other means. For example, look up the authors credentials.
The sites I visit the most are .edu or .org. These are going to belong to educational institutes or government websites. These sites will be well maintained and very credible, you can find information written by professors or students. Make sure that the information has been peer reviewed for added reliability.
If You Find it Once, Find it Again
I usually will not include a fact in my paper if I only find it once, it is best to double check information by finding one or two other websites that validate what you found was true. You can do additional research or find print at your local library to confirm your information. The more times you find something, the more likely that it is true.
By knowing what people are looking out for while trying to find information you can apply this to your own website. If you have a web presence, make sure that you have a nice design that makes the content feel credible. Also list out the authors to different articles that applies to your situation. With so many frauds on the internet it is important to take a few extra steps to assure what you're sharing is genuine or factual. Creating an online environment that is a credible resource you can help maximize the potential traffic to your website.
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