Research finds site problems

A RESEARCHER from Edith Cowan University has advised business operators to separate their internal web site from their public site to avoid confusion for users, to make finding information easier and to save thousands of dollars in lost time.

Edith Cowan University business researcher Dr Sue Stoney recommends that companies have one web site for both public and internal use to make it easy for users to find the information they are seeking.

“The intranet should never be bolted onto the Internet site of an organisation, as the needs and goals of the users are quite different,” Dr Stoney said.

“Choosing to mix sites instead of separating them is like taking customers on a full company tour when all they wanted to do was to place an order.”

Dr Stoney’s research has found that bad Internet design leaves many employees with a strong resistance to using the intranet for work duties.

“Bad design has left employees reluctant to use web sites when realistically it is quicker to do things like look up phone numbers and e-mail addresses on the intranet,” Dr Stoney said.

“Having a computer network that is quick and easy to get around can save companies thousands of dollars in lost time and training costs.”

Research participants regularly referred to the poor design of the sites, with some of these issues including documents not being where they expected them to be, headings being vague or obscure, and the use of unappealing colours.

Tips from Dr Stoney for good web site design:

plan a new site’s design and structure;

test a new site on actual users at both          the concept stage and after construction;

the whole site should be consistent in its look and navigation method;

avoid animations as they detract from overall readability;

buttons and links should be obvious;

have a good search engine and arrange search hits in date order; and

implement a workable system to ensure site content is always up-to-date.

Dr Stoney will speak on Intranet Usability and Design at the 14th Australasian Conference on Information Systems being held at Rendezvous Observation City from November         26 to 28.

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