Finding the Best, and Most Popular, Web Sites – Brief Article

Finding the Best, and Most Popular, Web Sites – Brief Article – Column

Reid Goldsborough

In just a decade the World Wide Web has grown from a physicist’s research project into a gargantuan marketplace contributing hundreds of billions of dollars and millions of jobs to the nation’s economy.

According to market research firm Cyveillance, three billion Web pages are now out there for your perusal. Some are more surf-worthy than others.

In recent years a number of organizations, publications and Web sites have made qualitative designations of the best Web sites. Such designations are necessarily subjective and sometimes idiosyncratic, but useful nonetheless.

If you’re looking for specific facts, you’re best off drilling down directly with a search engine such as Google. But if you’re browsing categories of information, you’re often better off visiting sites that have been chosen as the best by someone, rather than clicking to sites listed by portals such as AOL, Yahoo or MSN.

Sites may be prominently listed by portals solely because they have business relationships with the portal, not because of the quality or comprehensiveness of the site.

Here’s a roundup of some of the top outfits that have selected top sites. Exploring these selections can be useful not only for perusing the content available, but also, if you’re in the business of creating Web sites, for getting ideas.

* “The Webby Awards.” Awarded by the 350-member International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, the Webbys are the Oscars of the Internet. See who won this year in the 27 categories, from commerce and science to activism and music.

The Webbys also have a populist component, the People’s Voice Awards. This year more than 100,000 surfers voted for their favorites.

* “Best of the Web.” The editors of PC World magazine, the most widely circulated consumer-oriented computer magazine, identified what they consider the best 64 sites in 32 categories, including career information, Webmaster tools, health and entertainment.

* “The Top 100 Web Sites.” The editors of PC Magazine, a biweekly publication targeting computer professionals, also published their choices of the best Web sites, in this case 100 in 20 categories, from small-business services to lifestyle. .

* “Readers Rate the Web.” More than 3,000 technologically savvy readers of PC Magazine Online chose the 53 best Web sites in nine categories, including investments, banking, shopping and travel. .

* “101 Most Incredibly Useful Sites.” Yahoo Internet Life, an Internet “lifestyle” magazine, identified what it considers the 101 best sites in nine categories, from home and shopping to mailing/shipping and automotive.

Each month, the magazine also publishes a list of “Gold Star Sites” in a particular category. Recent categories include e-business, health, getting expert advice, trip planning and finding a job.

* “The Top 100 Family Web Sites.” The editors of FamilyPC, a magazine geared toward home computer users, selected what they consider the best sites in 36 categories, including parenting, genealogy, food and drink, beauty, kids and seniors.

* “Web Business 50/50 Awards.” CIO magazine, a computer publication for chief information officers and other business people, recognized 50 business-oriented Internet and 50 internal intranet sites for excellence in the categories of business to business, business to consumer, small company, startup and nonprofit.

In addition, there are lots of Web sites that select best sites. The Open Directory Project, an effort spearheaded by Netscape and now a part of America Online, lists 184 such sites, including 93 sites that offer award designations and 32 sites that review other sites

Though popularity and quality don’t necessarily go hand in hand, you also may find it useful to uncover the most popular sites, as a whole and in given categories.

Nielsen/NetRatings provides lots of statistics about the Web, including the top 10 Web properties in terms of usage (“properties” encompass multiple sites owned by the same company).

Media Metrix offers a listing of the 50 most popular Web properties in the United States and globally as well as a listing of the 500 most popular sites.

PC Data Online <http://www.pcdataonline.com publishes a list of the top 100 Web sites and the top 50 Web properties, according to the number of unique visitors and the "reach"–The percentage of the total Web population that visits a site.

Reid Goldsborough is a syndicated columnist and author of the book Straight Talk About the Information Superhighway. He can be reached at reidgold@netaxs.com or http://members.home.net/ reidgold.

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