A Global Study of Commercial Websites
By James Ho circa. June 1997
Nature of the Content
This study evaluates 1,800 commercial websites over a range of industries using a proposed value-added customer perspective framework. A matrix of business purpose and value creation tabulates results of U.S. business websites to meet these characteristics. Percentage measures show the ability of this to be met in terms of site functions and features. The observations/ results of each industry are reported and aggregated. Comparative studies are covered in less detail showing aggregate results of value-purpose assessments over a variety of countries. Different strengths and weaknesses of certain industries and countries are highlighted therefore indicate the main areas of improvement for usability.
Site is a static evaluation made available in 1997 of information of performance during a snapshot period, May - September 1996. Due to the volatile and changing nature of e-commerce, it is highly likely much of this information has altered or is obsolete due to possible shifts in industry, changes, progress and technology developments. It still remains a reflection on what key wants have been lacking by customers in the past and may be useful for comparative purposes.
Although an academic paper, the clarity of this resource can be used by industry specialists, students, and managers of electronic businesses to consider what general areas should be examined to gain an advantage and improvement over competitors and different industries.
Although data and information is somewhat outdated, this paper accounts for essential features to be considered by any e-Commerce business. It provides a helpful reminder that the quality of an e-commerce site should not only simply process a transaction, but also reflect all aspects of business purposes including providing information and product promotion. These purposes should be highlighted in matching value adding items requisite for customers. The results serve as a poor benchmark today, however may be useful as a minimum threshold to achieve, should a manager wish to use their evaluation matrix. Regarding implementation, it provides little suggestions on how to change any deficiencies in a badly performing website, and may be irrelevant and lack sufficient depth for a specific business. However, it is adequate as background reading for a good overview.
Usability & Design
Although not spectacularly designed, the site is easy to use, quick to load with few graphics, and plain text. Consistent Headings, subheadings, is interwoven with tables and column charts which helps detract evenly from a "text-heavy" interface. White background and conventional hyperlinks ensures that the user can easily read and navigate its way from the site should he or she wish to explore any further information. The site serves an informative purpose even if somewhat dry in design.