Many small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) have set up their own Web sites, as part of their business strategies, to improve their competitiveness and responsiveness. Careful evaluation and adoption of Web sites by SMEs can assist them in improving the effectiveness of their venture into e-commerce. This chapter discusses and analyses the effectiveness of SME business to business Web sites from a user perspective. An effective method of evaluating a Web site can contribute to the development of more quality Web sites and greater realization of benefits. Therefore, an established evaluation instrument (eQual) is used to assess 80 Web sites in terms of usability, information quality, and interaction and service. The analysis shows that although a significant number of sites reflect little understanding of the attributes of good design or potential benefits to be gained from Web sites, there are examples of competent and effective Web site use.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Information Quality Dimension: This dimension considers content as the most important element of Web sites and is seen to be directly related to Web site success.
Usability Dimension: This dimension addresses how a user interfaces and reacts to a Web site: the emphasis is on the user and not on the designer or the software of the site.
Web Site Evaluation: This is the weighing up process to rationally assess the effectiveness and benefits of Web sites which are expected to improve organizations’ business value.
Web Site: A place on the World Wide Web where an organization’s homepage is located. It is a collection of Web pages, that is, HTML/XHTML documents accessible via HTTP on the Internet.
Service Quality Dimension: The dimension allows for examination of the role of service provider within organizations. This is particularly important in the context of e-commerce where the end user is the customer and not the employee.
B2BEC: Business-to-business electronic commerce. Business conducted through the Internet between companies.
SMEs: Small to medium enterprises. The European Commission has defined SMEs as organizations which employ less than 250 people.
Web Site Quality: This refers to the elements of a Web site that affect the end user in the way they interact and use a business Web site.