Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

ASSESSMENT OF QUALITY OF EAST AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS WEBSITES AND SUPPORT TO SMEs IN BUSINESS INFORMATION PROVISION

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

ASSESSMENT OF QUALITY OF EAST AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS WEBSITES AND SUPPORT TO SMEs IN BUSINESS INFORMATION PROVISION

Article excerpt

1.Background

With the advent of information technology and e-business, the quality of websites and their utilization to address the needs of many stakeholders is becoming critical. As Hasan and Abuelrub (2008) note, since the introduction of the first commercial website in 1994, electronic commerce has spread across the globe as a marketing, sales, and communication phenomenon, changing the operations of the business sectors. Taplin and Joseph (2012) observe that websites play an important role in the improvement of sustainable development for learning, benchmarking and cost reduction which are important to anybody including the business enterprises. This has compelled companies seeking to achieve significant benefits through ebusiness to create an effective and usable web presence to ensure successful interaction and communication with their employees, partners, and customers (Hasan and Abuelrub 2008).

The electronic presence globally through the Internet has revolutionized the way businesses are conducted and managed. To expand the markets especially in terms of investments opportunities and improve on productivity, the global appearance is vital today. This is not only making many business entities to create websites but also making governments the world over to rethink on their e-global visibility. In a bid to support government activities, most government bodies have now created their own websites. This is designed to help support government e-programmes, ebusiness and e-governance. Srivastava and Theo (2010) observe that recent years have witnessed rapid developments in e-governance as well as ebusiness within nations across the world, prompting many governments worldwide to adopt websites as an ingredient in promoting trade. The primary justification for the move towards e-governance--an electronic channel of service delivery that has proven tremendously successful in the private sector, is the belief that it holds considerable potential for positively transforming government service delivery (Morgeson and Mithas 2009). With the proliferation of websites and the commercial Internet services, assessment of website quality has evolved as an important activity (Grigoroudis ... et al 2008). Business organizations and governments throughout the world invest time and money in order to develop and maintain user-perceived quality websites. These websites should provide an effective communication channel and information access platforms between companies, governments and customers. Evidently, a website should clearly reflect the quality efforts undertaken by a business organization or government department; given that it is an important part of the connection with the set of customers (Grigoroudis ... et al 2008).

However, when the website does not meet the needs of the users, it attracts less users. As LaRose et al., (2001); Shao, (2009) and Paek ... et al (2011), note, according to the uses and gratifications tradition of studying media effects, internet or website users are known to be more motivated to search for information when they believe it can meet their goals and expectations. This implies the quality of websites and intention designed for are crucial matters today. But to what extent are the East African government ministries websites meeting the business information needs of the SMEs? How well are these websites designed? This study focused on these two important issues.

1.1 Problem Statement

It is undisputable fact that websites play a significant role in enhancing the web presence and providing a platform for access to relevant information. However, this does not mean websites should be created and hosted without following some basic quality measures. To be able to perform to the expectations of users, issues like content, design and organizational dimensions should not be overlooked. Saha ... et al (2012) ably note that despite the growth in adoption of technology or website or e-programmes by governments, the assessment of quality in electronically delivered public services has been relatively lacking. …

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