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Information & Communication Technology

Performance Indicators for Websites

Marghanita da Cruz

Corporate websites interface to a wide range of stakeholders including customers, shareholders, prospective customers, regulators, competitors, suppliers, employees and external IT infrastructure service providers.

Statistical Analysis of website logs can provide a valuable insight into how effective a site really is and how it is being used. This information needs to be provided in a comprehensible way to those making decisions about the content and design of webistes.

Log files can provide information about the search strings being used to locate a site. This information can be used in two ways, the keywords that are working and those that are missing. It is important that those looking for a site via a search engine can find it using words that are meaningful to them.

Log files also reveal the popularity of individual pages and the route visitors may take through a website. This is useful in designing websites to ensure they can be navigated from multiple entry points.

Bearing in mind that performance indicators act as both drivers and measures, they are useful in driving changes to business processes - time spent handling inquiries, use of the website to handle inquiries, complexity of inquiries, technical support, need for navigational assistance or inquiries arising out of content that could be but is not provided on the website. This data needs to be collected and reviewed

Internal business processes need to be inclusive of the website. Those expected to provide content require the capacity and motivation to adapt their business practices. This may require the acquisition of new skills - written (email) rather than spoken (spoken) - electronic (requiring compatibility of systems) rather than printed communication. What may be convenient for the sender may not be effective communication with the recipient.

Testing and a feedback channel are critical. The regular analysis of the feedback will provide valuable information about whether users are experiencing technical difficulties using the website, in which case they may revert to other service channels or simply terminate the relationship.

The regular reporting of information about a website is a useful tool in enhancing the governance of websites. By providing tangible evidence of the way in which a website is used, the understanding of websites is broadened, beyond the look and can provide advance information on opportunities and threats.

Providing information in the form of tables, graphs and even pictorial presentations provides a valuable insight into virtual cyberspace.