E Tourism Website Evaluation Computer Science Essay

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E- Tourism is becoming more and more popular these days as people are turning to the internet to decide their holiday destination. Almost all nations have specialized e-package tours and e-tourism web sites through which they promote their nations tourism. Tourism is the greatest revenue generator of any nation and thus every nation wants to make use of this potential to gain more revenue. The target audience for these websites is overseas tourists who have little or no knowledge about the country they wish to travel. A well designed e-tourist website will definitely extract or bring in great revenue, as it opens the doors of the countries rich tradition and history to the whole world.

Hong Kong is well defined as a place where "East meets west", it is a great financial center for world trade and it is also an entertainment hub. Thus it is one of most thronged places for the world tourist. It is a mix of old versus new, where the oldest of tradition meets modernity, and where technology meets religion. The Chinese traditions, martial arts, museums and various other recreational activities make Hong Kong a great tourist spot.

In this project I am going to evaluate critically a e-tourism site and analyze and discuss about its pro and cons.

2. Methodology

One of the e-tourist websites which is crated to promote Hong Kong tourism is: http://www.oceanpark.com.hk/html/en/home/ 

To evaluate the ocean park website, I am using two different methods of approach qualitative approach and quantitative approach.

Under Qualitative approach I am using four main website components to evaluate the ocean park website.

Design

I am going to evaluate the graphical interface used in this website, colours used and the website layout, and other aesthetic components present in the websites design. Generally a fully functional websites have all these design elements but what is important is to evaluate and find their usability to the visitors of the website. The design must be decided after keeping in mind the target audience. Hence evaluate and analysing this element will definitely help to improve the website.

Contents

"Content is King", and so the content displayed in the website will help the Viewers to understand about the site and its features. Great content enriched with keywords is also essential to help the website to rank in the major search engines. Thus in place of just words, totally keyword rich organic content will bring in more search results which will lead to more visitors to the site. The content must be brief, simple and easy to understand. It must also be error free and the details provided must be 100% original and information accurate. So evaluating this element will not only help the viewers to understand the tourist spot more but also will get more traffic to the sites through search engines.

Interactivity

Just generating traffic to the website is of no use. Targeted traffic which will mostly benefit e-tourism is what is needed. The website must have two way communication features and interactive elements through which the viewers can easily contact someone at the site for more details, or they might interact with other visitors to know their experience and holiday plans. Thus evaluating this site for this function will help to understand what this site offers for its visitors.

Usability

Technical/functional component / Ease of Use

Search engines lead viewers to the site through any of the many pages in the website. It need not necessarily be through the home page. It depends on which page has ranked best and is viewed by the public. When the viewer reaches the site, he must find it easy to navigate through the site and use it to the maximum potential. Having a great website with all elements like, graphics, flash elements, content and interactivity is not enough until the visitor finds it easy to use and navigate between the pages.

Under Quantitative approach I am using TAM'S MODEL to evaluate the website

The Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) is an information system theory that models how users come to accept and use a technology Example: software, a web-site, a product.

The model suggest that when user are presented with a new software package, a number of factors influence their decision about how and when they will use it, speed , operation

Under TAM'S Model there are ten different methods to Analysis the website

Product

The perceived utility of service and their web-based representation

Availability

The Availability of information in the system (e.g., types of services, products, facilities etc)

Speed

The responsiveness of the system determined by the server and the internet service provider

Intelligence

The recommendation strategies implemented into the application and how well they adapt to varying customers' needs.

Layout

The degree of attention elevated by the textual content and by the visual representation of the system

Service

The variety of service offered by the system (e.g., online payment services online booking services)

Languages

The number of available languages which determines the percentages of potential customers that can understand and use the system

Navigation

Navigation features assisting the user to control the system. The primary navigational system of a web site includes contextual links embedded in the textual information of a document.

Interactivity

This factor is a general attribute of procedural, participatory environments (Murray 1997).

Reliability

Reliability describes the quality of the information provided as well as the integrity and workability of the system.

The availability of all the features which are targeted must be present in a website. The site must open up quickly as the viewers will not wait until it loads slowly. The language used, the layout, the reliability of the information provided are all features which might make a successful website.

TAM'S MODEL

3. Website Evaluation Analysis

3.1Qualitative approach

Design

The website had two major elements namely the flash portion and the footer portion. Flash part covers all the necessary information about the website that includes the header navigation where one can find more information about a specific topic. It also includes links to get back to the homepage, online ticket sales, park maps, what's new and their face book profile link.

The design element of the site and its layout looks too colorful and gaudy; there are too many flashy elements coming up and going. It gives a much suffocated feeling. The main menu above the flash design is hard to find, as it goes with the color scheme of the flash design.

Now, let's rush back to the footer section of the website. The website footer has all the links related to Park Experience, Plan Your Visit, Fun Learning, Smart Fun Annual Pass, OP Fans Club, Buy and Book. Links to contact us page, corporate information and corporate policy pages were also included.

We have scrolled down to look at the footer menu. Many people might not even know there is something provided below the page. The layout is way too long and that is why we have to scroll down. The interactive elements are less and the user will find difficult in navigating between the sessions to find some information. It takes some time to understand the website.

.Content

After careful analysis it is found that the content of this site is not very good and informative. Under park experience, the attraction and show page has no content at all to explain the different shows and attractive spots. Every option is a clickable link which leads to another page with very minimal info about the option. Moreover the page takes time to load for various reasons. The navigation and the usability are not very good as I was confused as to how to move about the first time I landed in this page. So more importance must be given to the content and the flash and clickable links can be minimized.

Interactivity

There is very little interactive elements especially two way interactive elements in the website. The face book linkage is the only major interactive element. Others are not yet functional. A live chat feature could have given a more functional element to the site as viewers can ask their doubts and get it clarified then and there. Other interactive elements like including video clips, forum to discuss viewers experience, live chat, games and puzzles can increase the interactivity of the site.  

Usability

The usability of the site as analyzed is little complex. A visitor landing in some other page other than the main home page will find it little difficult to navigate back to the home page. Too many images, flash elements and graphics have made the navigation cumbersome.  

3.2Quantitative method - TAM MODEL

Product

Though the site aims at providing a lot of images and pictures about the tourist attraction it fails to explain in detail the significance of these places. Too much usage of flash and graphics make the pages to load slowly if you have a slow connection. The overall presentation is too glary and the webpage is filled with figures, colors and design elements. It looks too confusing for a first time visitor to adjust to these various elements of the page.

Availability

Resources for buying the ticket and the availability level are shown in the home page of the website. There is a lot of available resources which can be used, like booking tickets for the shows and the attractions etc. details of the show, online ticketing, park map, opening and closing time etc are all given in the site.

Speed

The website loads a bit slower in the beginning because of the huge flash file that was embedded inside the website. The child pages however loads much faster than the homepage because of the less graphical elements inside the website. It is a bit irritating to see too much of flash and animation used in the site.

Layout

The homepage of the website has only single layout, with flash file at the top which includes the navigation and the basic elements of the website and a footer which is common to all the WebPages in the website. Nevertheless the child pages have two layouts which include the text portion on the right side and the sub navigation portion of the left side.

Services

The website provides the clear picture of the services they are offering in the park. You can find more information in the park experience section for full details of the services offered. But it could have been more useful if the information was made through simple but elaborate content instead of images and single line info.

Languages

The language used in this website is very simple, and people with some Basic English knowledge can understand the writings very well. The pages are explanative through pictures and images, to be understood by almost any kind of visitor.

Navigation

The header navigation provides all the basic information that should be known about the services the part is offering. One can navigate from one page to another page using these menu options. Flash navigation at the top of the website gives a very rich look for this site and there are places where mini navigation clips played a major role in transferring visitors from one page to another. But too much use of flash could be avoided

.

Interactivity

There contact us link in the footer provides the two way communication between the customer and the company. Apart from contact page, the websites also has face book profile page which is uses as a one way communication channel between the customer and the park. There is a fan club, which has not started functioning as yet. The fun learning menu is useful for kids. But more interactivity like the live chat, messenger, photo sharing, diary postings etc could have been used.

Reliability

The website is highly useful for people who are away from the place. The website includes a set of images that can show you how particular place look, in this way the visitor gets a better view of how a particular place looks inside the park without actually visiting the park.

Intelligence

The design is highly intellectual and intelligent; the creative level behind the work shows the quality of services the park is offering. The footer page of the website has no connection with the flash file and thus even flash file fails to load, the contact information is still available, which is a smart piece of work by the web developer. Too many images and fun elements and glossy colors could have been avoided overall.

4. Recommendations

The fun elements and interactivity tools like videos, games and puzzles must be added to the site for greater usability.  The viewers will be engaged with such fun elements and they will be interested in the site and will want to visit Hong Kong. The content must be seo based and relevant keywords must be added for better ranking of the site in search engines. The e-tourism site is a door to the outer world and if the products and services are not interesting and if the viewer finds it hard to navigate and get the relevant information then there is no use. Loading of the pages takes time and hence the use of too much graphics and flash can be minimized. The website page is very long and hence the viewer needs to scroll down to see the footer menu and options. It must be designed so that it fits just the screen of the monitor.

5. Conclusion

This website has a really complicated web graphics which makes it a little tricky for any user to navigate from page to page. Browsing this website is not very easy and the information provided is presented with links and very little content. More interactive elements can be included to nail the visitor to the site and to make it more usable. We can include puzzle, games and videos to keep the traffic to the site impressed and motivated to use these elements. More content must be definitely added as this will help the navigation as well as aid in search engine ranking. What is explained through clickable links can be better understood through plain and simple content. Moreover the webpage extends below the main screen of the computer and hence scrolling down to view the full site content is needed. This is not a great idea and people usually don't want to waste time. They like to navigate through the options available on top. Moreover the human eye co-ordination is generally to the right side, so whatever comes up to the right is easily engrossed. Keeping these changes in mind if the site is redesigned or redone it can bring in more profit to the e-tourism in Hong Kong as well more targeted traffic to the website.

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