Benchmarking the Home Pages of 'Fortune' 500 Companies

Article

Tamimi, Nabil; Rajan, Murli; Sebastianelli, Rose   (2000, ASQ)  

Quality Progress    Vol. 33    No. 7
QICID: 13935    July 2000    pp. 47-51
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Article Abstract

The Internet has made dramatic changes in how goods and services are purchased and sold. The sophistication levels of Web presences vary from company to company, and different kinds of Web sites serve different types of audiences. Most Fortune 500 companies use the Internet to replace their paper-based documents with electronic multimedia versions on the Web. Moving large amounts of documentation to the Web creates challenges relating to the maintenance and quality improvement of the Web sites. The quality of corporate Web sites depends on 13 critical factors. These include the use of meta tags, selection of home page title, selection of domain name, search engine site registration, server reliability, speed of page loading, links, spelling, visibility of contact information, timeliness of information, presence of privacy policies, presence of search engines on home pages, and translation into multiple languages. A study of the corporate home pages of all Fortune 500 firms based on data collected from October 1999 to January 2000 benchmarked the 13 factors against the home pages. Seventy percent of the firms used meta tags that related to search engine indexing and relevancy. Ninety-six percent of the Web sites were retrieved using the six selected search engines in the study, with Alta Vista providing an indexing percentage of 96 percent, the highest in the study. Sever reliability was significant, since 99 percent of the sites had servers up and running when checked at random at any time of the day or week. The average speed of home page loading was 19.31 seconds using a 28K connection. According to Garage.com, a specialist in Web site performance optimization, a business Web site's home page should load in less than 20 seconds using a 28K connection. The average number of bad links per home page was 0.4, and the average number of spelling errors per home page was 0.16. Twenty-six percent of the home pages had no visible contact information, however, and 83 percent provided no indication as to the timeliness of their content via revision or update dates. Only 53 percent of the Web sites posted privacy policy links on the home page. Forty-one percent did not include search engines on the home page, and 89 percent had no capability for being translated into other languages. The study concluded that Fortune 500 firms have home pages that implement certain quality factors while ignoring others. Improvements can be made in the visibility of contact information, date of home page, presence of privacy policies, presence of search engines, and translation to other languages. Failing to improve these factors may erode the utility of the Internet as a tool for disseminating information on a global basis.

Keywords

Benchmarking,World wide web (WWW),Quality improvement (QI),Effectiveness


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