Saturday, May 24, 2008

Measuring the Effectiveness of a Website

Chen and Wells (1999) have defined a measure to evaluate the effectiveness of a Website -Attitude Towards a Site (AST). To conduct the measurement, judges will evaluate a site based on three categories of characteristics: 1.) Entertainment, 2.) Informativeness and 3.) Organization. Chen and Wells selected the characteristics in each category from a literature search of prior studies and analysis on attitudes. They used willing MBA students as the site judges (p 29). Chen and Wells (p 33) qualify these results.

“It should be noted that this formula represents evaluation of this particular set of Websites by this particular set of raters.”

Different scores will come from different psychographic types. Lisa Sanders (2007, p 1) advises Website designers to use the concept of “personas” when creating a site. Personas are ”archetypical characters [who] represent specific consumer segments.”

So instead of doing the measurement with a handy group of available workers, use sample groups from the VALS, PRIZM, TR or other psychograpic segments making up the target audience and have them do the measurements.

The approach that Chen and Wells used by selecting available students is probably fine for a general packaged goods site like Coca Cola where there is an even distribution among psychograpic groups. However, some products will have more narrowly focused audience characteristics and so the AST measure of the site’s effectiveness would be more accurate if the judges doing the measurement have those characteristics themselves.

How should we measure a creative effort? Many methods exist for Websites. Chen and Wells (1999) have theirs. Jenamani, Mohapatra and Ghose (2002) have theirs. Green and Pearson have theirs. When we talk of such measuring, I like to keep in mind one of my favorite quotes, so although lengthy, I paraphrase it here (see Steinbeck, 1941, p 2-3):

"The Mexican Sierra (a game fish) has 17 plus 15 plus 9 spines in the dorsal fin. In the lab the way you count them is to open an evil smelling jar, remove a stiff colorless fish from formaldehyde, and count the spines and write the truth.

In open water, the Mexican Sierra is a rapid swimmer. If it strikes hard on the line so that our hands are burned, if the fish sounds and nearly escapes, and finally comes in over the rail, his colors are pulsing and his tail beating the air, a whole new relational reality has come into being.

It is good to know what you are doing. The man in the lab with his pickled fish has set down one truth about the spines and has recorded many lies. The fish is not that color he sees, not that texture, that dead, nor does he smell that way."

Chen, Qimei and William Wells (October 1999). Attitude toward the Site. Journal of Advertising Research. Retrieved from EBSCOHOST on July 8, 2008

Green, David and Michael Pearson (Fall 2006). DEVELOPMENT OF A WEB SITE USABILITY INSTRUMENT BASED ON ISO 9241-11. Journal of Computer Information Systems. Retrieved from EBSCOHOST on July 5, 2008.

Jenamani, M and P. Mohapatra and Ghose S (2002). Benchmarking for Design of Corporate Websites. Quarterly Journal of Electronic Commerce. Retrieved from EBSCOHOST on July 8, 2008.

Steinbeck, John (1941). The Log from the Sea of Cortez. New York: Viking.

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