The South African User Experience Maturity Status for Website Design in Provincial Governments

Pretorius, Marco; Calitz, André
January 2012
Proceedings of the European Conference on e-Government;2012, p589
Conference Proceeding
The growth in Africa's Internet and broadband sector has significantly increased in recent years, specifically in the eGovernment sector. The Internet has become a crucial tool to disseminate information to citizens, but poorly designed websites can drive a wedge between a government and its citizens. Designing a user friendly and functional provincial government website is a challenging task. A website that is difficult to navigate and does not meet the user's needs and requirements increases the task difficulty and complexity. The lack of user-centered design methodologies and poor usability of government websites are major obstacles in several countries. The consensus amongst researchers is that usability is an important factor in designing eGovernment websites; however, there is some disagreement as to the extent that usability has been achieved in the majority of eGovernment websites. African eGovernment websites generally have higher failure rates and usability problems. In South Africa, the government did not have any direct policies or guidelines relating to website design initially. Today a number of guidelines and principles exist for eGovernment website design; however, there are limited indications that these principles and guidelines are being applied by South African Provincial Government website designers. These guidelines can further not be implemented if there is no executive support, adequately trained staff, budget or the use of usability methodologies and user-centered design processes. There is a need to measure how well organisations conduct usability and UX in their organisations (Earthy, 1998). The research question addressed in this paper is: What is the maturity of usability and user experience (UX) in South African Provincial Governments? A survey was conducted amongst stakeholders in each of the nine Provinces in South Africa. The goal of the survey was to determine the usability and UX maturity of each of the Provinces. The results of the study indicates a lack of usability and UX processes in South African Provincial Governments and the limited use of a standardised user-centered design methodology. Usability and UX are not an established best practice or standard in South African National, Provincial or Local Governments. The results further highlight the need for a methodology to institutionalise usability and UX in the nine Provincial Governments. The results of this study will be of value in South African and emerging market Provincial Government environments. The recommendations have implications for government officials, information technologists, website designers, usability evaluators and eGovernment website designers


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