Web content analysis

Rachel Gibson, ISC.

The method is an adaptation of content analysis techniques that have been used to code and interpret political campaign advertising on television and radio for the Web environment. The units of analysis are the official party and candidate websites – which are sub-divided into three main types: 1) home pages 2) social media or web 2.0 platforms (Twitter and Facebook profiles, YouTube channels) and 3) the new Activist Centres.

Coding schemes specific to each type of site are designed that capture the design and purpose of the sites by registering the presence or absence of a series of web-specific ‘features’ or items – such as manifesto pdfs, online donation, email contacts and chatrooms, These individual items are cumulated into ‘functional’ indices that measure the sites’ performance of a range of campaign activities, including message dissemination, promoting participation, volunteer recruitment and activism and resource generation.

The coding schemes also seek to capture elements of site design and content delivery with indices measuring accessibility, use of navigational aids and freshness of updating.

Experts/users at Manchester

Projects and publications


Gibson, R. K. and S. Ward (2000) “A Proposed Methodology for Measuring the Function and Effectiveness of Political Web-Sites.” with Stephen J. Ward. Social Science Computer Review 18(3): 301-319.

Rogers, R. ‘Internet Research: The Question of Method – A Keynote Address from the YouTube and the 2008 Election Cycle in the United States Conference.’ Journal of Information Technology and Politics 7(2&3): 241-260.

Schneider, S. and Foot, K. A. , "The Web as an Object of Study", New Media and Society 6 (1): 114-122, 2004.

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