Today, the development of business is closely intertwined with the development of the online business through the development of websites which either maintain the conventional business or open a new channel for the development of business online. At the same time, the development of e-commerce websites raises a number of problems which companies have to overcome to reach a tremendous success in online business. In this respect, companies developing websites to promote and extend their business online need to elaborate certain criteria their website should meet to make the online business successful and efficient. At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that an effective website should reach the target audience and attract users. At first glance, these are simple criteria but they are hard to reach, especially if they are considered in details. In this respect, it is possible to precise the major criteria on the ground of which it is possible to develop an effective website for e-business: design, ease of use, communication quality, coherence, organizational motive, context, error prevention, domain name choice, operational effectiveness, and security and data protection.
In the contemporary business environment, the development of a website is an integral part of the business development because websites maintain the business and helps a company to promote its products and services online. In such a way, it is possible to reach the target audience and to provide larger information about the company, its products and services to customers and business partners. In addition, the development of the online business facilitates the penetration of new markets because it helps to reach the larger audience compared to the use of print media or conventional visual media, such as television. At the same time, the website design is very important for the successful development of the website (Mingliang, 2002). At this point, it is necessary to lay emphasis on the fact that the website design contributes to the formation of the image of the company online. In other words, the website design is a face of the company on the Internet. Therefore, companies pay a lot of attention to the development of the effective website design which matches the traditional public image of a company and which helps a company to promote its logo, vision and convey messages which a company wants to convey to its target customer group. The website design should be developed by profession websites designers in cooperation with representatives of companies because the latter should provide as much information on the company as possible to help web designers to create the website which matches the public or brand image of a company to the full extent.
Furthermore, another important criterion which defines the quality and effective of an e-business website is the ease to use. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the fact that many companies are oriented on the diverse target customer group, which may have different skills and experience of using Internet. In addition, users always need to have user-friendly website design that helps them to find the information they need and to meet the goals they want to achieve while they visit a website of some companies. To put it in simple words, e-business websites should be user-friendly and easy to use. In fact, an ideal website is the website which is equally easy to use for all users, from a child to an elderly person, regardless of their educational background and the experience of using Internet and PC (Behzad, 2003). However, such easiness to use is hardly achievable, taking into consideration constantly progressing technologies, which make using websites more and more complicated mainly because websites are often overwhelmed with information. In such a situation, the easy to use website should provide users with basic information, present it in a clear and comprehensible form and have an easy and comprehensible navigation.
By the way, the communication quality is also of the utmost importance for the overall effectiveness of an e-business website. In this respect, many companies attempt to focus on the communication quality providing users with ample opportunities to contact websites administrators and support services 24/7. In such a way, companies attempt to get closer to users and, therefore, attract consumers to products and services they sell or offer online. At the same time, the communication quality implies the use of the customer-centered approach and permanent maintenance of the website to ensure that users can maintain contacts with representatives of a company whenever they need.
The coherence of the website influences consistently the easiness to use website and the attitude users shape in relation to the website and the company presented on the website (Devroye, 1986). The website design and the information the company attempts to provide for users should be logical and match each other. In fact, it is very important to use concise messages or word-ins along with visual means which can back up the verbally presented information.
Another criterion that defines the effectiveness of an e-business website is the organizational motive (Johns and Martin, 2004). Basically, all the information users can find on the website as well as the website design should have one and the same organizational motive that can be clearly traced by users while they are surfing the website and searching for a particular piece of information. At the same time, website designers should understand clearly and adequately the organizational motive on the ground of which they develop an e-business website.
Furthermore, the context in which the information on the website is presented as well as the website design is also very important because the context should match the image of the company. For instance, a company, which normally targets at the elderly customer group, should not use bright, fashionable and advanced elements of website design or content because it is not always perceived properly by the target customer group whereas the younger population is not the target customer group and, therefore, is not interested in products or services offered on the website.
Furthermore, some websites suffer from errors that occur frequently and make users furious. The development of the errors prevention system is very important because it increases the reliability and stability of the website and allows a larger number of users to access the website. Therefore, the company can use the website more effectively compared to the website where errors occur frequently.
Event the domain name does matter in the evaluation of the quality of an e-business website because the domain name should be closely intertwined with the brand image of a company and match the overall image of the company. Users should recognize a company just looking at the domain name. Otherwise, a website will not be very effective.
The operational effectiveness is one more important criterion that defines the quality and effectiveness of an e-business website (Andrew, 2003). In fact, the operation effectiveness influences the amount of users accessing the website and the speed of data transmission which is very important in the contemporary business environment. The current level of the development of ITs increases requirements of users to the operational effectiveness and slow websites can undermine the confidence of users in the reliability of a company. In fact, a poor operational effectiveness creates a negative image of a company and discourages users to access the website.
Finally, the security and data protection are extremely important today, when the problem of information breaches persists. In fact, users need to feel confident that their private information is secured and protected, especially if they use the website on the regular basis. Therefore, companies should focus on the development of information systems which maintain the high level of security of websites and minimize the risk of information breaches and loss of private information of websites' users.
Thus, in conclusion, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that the aforementioned criteria can help to evaluate the effectiveness of e-business websites but the evaluation should not necessarily be limited by these criteria solely. Instead, it is necessary to apply multiple criteria of the evaluation of the quality and effectiveness of e-business websites. In such a way, it is possible to reach a high degree of reliability and validity of the evaluation.
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