Academic journal article Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline

Influence of Information Product Quality on Informing Users: A Web Portal Context

Academic journal article Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline

Influence of Information Product Quality on Informing Users: A Web Portal Context

Article excerpt

Abstract

Web portals have been used as information products to deliver personalized, feature-rich, and flexible information needs to Internet users. However, all portals are not equal. Most of them have relatively a small number of visitors, while a few capture the majority of surfers. This study seeks to uncover the factors that contribute the perceived quality of a general portal. Based on 21 factors derived from an extensive literature review on Information Product Quality (IPQ), web usage, and media use, an experimental study was conducted to identify the factors that are perceived by web portal users as most relevant. The literature categorizes quality factors of an information product in three dimensions: information, physical, and service. This experiment suggests a different clustering of factors: Content relevancy, Communication interactiveness, Information currency, and Instant gratification. The findings in this study will help developers find a more customer-oriented approach to developing high-traffic portals.

Keywords: web portal, web portal quality, information quality, information product quality, perceived quality; intention to use

Introduction

An Information Product can be defined as a highly interdependent package of information that can be digitalized and can be transmitted and distributed in digital form (Fielding et al., 1998; Shapiro & Varian, 1998). Web portals are one of the commonly used Information Products nowadays and an example of the delivery mechanisms in the informing science framework (Cohen, 1999). People often set up a web portal as the first page of their web browser, a single access point to search, retrieve, and disseminate information (Marck, Raving, & Byrd, 2001). This results in the use of web portals for a considerable amount of time every day.

To enhance the quality of website design, many developers refer to the templates proposed by software vendors. Most of the design principles were derived from the well-tested UML-based Graphical User Interfaces design principles and the increasing use of flash and related technologies. However, due to the necessity of using the portals as a gateway for collecting data that could be exploited for marketing and marketing research purposes, the design of the portals has recently been more directed toward the needs of the businesses rather than focusing on the desires of the surfers or customers. Google.com has recently issued some quality guidelines to remind developers to "make pages primarily for users, not for search engines" since there is an increasing trend to deceive surfers or present different content to improve search engine rankings ("Webmaster guidelines", 2009).

In contrast, there remains little research as to what would attract users to a portal, as a particular Information Product (Meisel & Sullivan, 2000). Since many people spend a significant of their time on the use of web portals every day, it becomes important to investigate how people to use web portals and perceive their quality. In this research, information product quality is examined to see if it can be the key determinant of web portal use.

Considering the quality of web portals, the content of web portals themselves is not the only thing of importance. The form in which web portals are presented is also very important, as well as the services they offer. Every information product has three components in it: informational, physical, and service components (Alter, 2002). In this study, the quality of web portals was examined in terms of these three components in information products.

Web Portal Definition and Classification

Tatnall (2005) defines a web portal as a website designed "to act as a gateway to access to other sites" and "to aggregate information from multiple sources and make that information available to various users" and "to provide the services of a guide that can help to protect the user from the chaos of the Internet and direct them towards an eventual goal". …

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