An Exploratory Study of Government Websites Usability in Jordan

An Exploratory Study of Government Websites Usability in Jordan

Bader Methqal Al Fawwaz (College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences, Brunel University, London, UK), Vanja Garaj (College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences, Brunel University, London, UK) and Wamadeva Balachandran (College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences, Brunel University, London, UK)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/ijesma.2014100102

Abstract

The level of usability of the current eGovernment infrastructure in Jordan was investigated by soliciting the views of the management, i.e. the professionals in charge of managing eGovernment projects. The management was addressed in order to gain an understanding of the root causes of the existing usability problems. The study was based on questionnaire which distributed to 37 managers from different institutions providing eGovernment services. The findings show that the main problems undermining the Jordanian eGovernment usability are: 1) the lack of the general usability awareness amongst the management, 2) the lack of clear usability standards and guidelines, 3) the insufficient level of end-user involvement in the process of design and maintenance of eGovernment services, 4) limited budgets and 5) the lack of expert web-designers. Unearthing the views of those in the position to make a change, these findings are useful not only in the context of redefining the strategy for improving eGovernment in Jordan, but also in other developing countries.
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1. Introduction

The proliferation of information and communication technology (ICT) over the last two decades has brought about a number of positive changes and delivered significant improvements in the interaction between citizens and their governments.

By way of eGovernment, ICT has greatly enhanced the efficiency and effectiveness of the services that many governments around the world offer to the public - thus supporting economic and social development both locally and globally (Kumar et al, 2007).

The term eGovernment does not have a unique definition. It is often defined as the use of any form of ICT (e.g. the Internet, Wide Area Networks etc.) to support the delivery of government-related information, services and transactions through seamless interactions between citizens and all governmental entities (Beynon-Davies, 2007; Fagan, 2006). The United Nations Public Administration Network defines eGovernment as: “utilizing the Internet and the world-wide-web for delivering government information and services to citizen” (UNPAN, 2002, p.1), while the World Bank (2010) defines it as “the use by government agencies of information technologies, such as Wide Area Networks, the Internet, and mobile computing, that have the ability to transform relations with citizens, businesses and other arms of government”.

In defining eGovernment, some authors emphasise its business facilitation role. For example, Buckley (2003) defined eGovernment as implementing cost-effective ICT models for all stakeholders (citizens, industry, federal employees) to conduct business transactions online. Poon and Huang (2002) considered eGovernment to be the range of processes implemented by governments to provide the public with e-business solutions (e.g. buying, selling and conducting other types of business-related electronic transaction). In this context, eGovernment is seen as part of a wider sphere of so-called eDemocracy (i.e. the electronic communication between government and its users in any shape or form).

The availability of computers and the Internet are not only factors to be considered in any eGovernment form but the gap between the government and citizens' perspectives on eGovernment should be considered. Heeks (2003) and Choudrie et al (2009) mentioned that in the information systems implementation that there is a gap between the reality and design. This is considered one of the main reasons behind eGovernment projects failure in most developing countries.

Despite the proliferation of eGovernment services, governments have faced some challenges in making their websites usable (Soufi and Maguire, 2007). One of these challenges is the lack of understanding eGovernment in government agencies which will affect negatively on usability of websites by ignore users’ needs and this will lead to decrease users demand on eGovernment websites.

According to Thomas and Streib (2003) and Kampen et al (2005) that there are some users prefer to obtain informative services instead of integrative services, while, other users are demanding improvement on the existing services instead of launching new online services. These differences make a gap between the supply and demand for eGovernment services. This is due to the low level of standardization for e-services usability from the supply side particularly in the developing countries as most the governments have problems in addressing the citizen's needs to use eGovernment services (Mofleh, 2008).

Casaló et al (2005) stated that failure to achieve acceptable levels of usability for eGovernment services threatens not only the eGovernment initiatives, but also the relationship between the government and citizens in general.

These issues are more significant in developing countries such as Jordan, where the digital divide is wider (Elsheikh et al, 2008), further inhibiting the eGovernment project. Mofleh (2008) and Mohammad (2009) stated that the construction and design of Jordanian eGovernment websites, expectations and needs of end-users have been ignored, and no account given of what Jordanians want from the existing system.

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