The research addressed the factors contributing to the success or failure of an Internet-based communication web site in assisting business-to-business companies to create, establish and/or enhance sustainable customer relationships. To achieve the outcome, a web site was designed, developed, delivered and evaluated to assist a business-to-business company to create, establish and enhance a sustainable corporate image as perceived by their primary clients. The design, development and evaluation of the web site consisted of the following sub-processes: A review of relevant literature: firstly to reflect upon communication through the wired world, and secondly to determine how the information revolution influences the way people think, work and live. A survey of the literature dealing specifically with new strategic marketing perspectives, in order to identify the demands placed on a company's business strategy by the new strategic marketing perspectives, and to determine what these strategies are. A survey of the literature dealing with information design and the web usability of Internet-¬based programmes with a view to designing and developing a web site for a business-to¬ business company which complied with various design specifications that influence the effectiveness and accessibility thereof. Finally, designing and evaluating the web site to identify potential usability problems. The three evaluation methods used were paper prototyping, machine prototyping and usability testing. The rationale being to identify major usability problems and to obtain measure from intended users and a usability expert on the effectiveness, efficiency and user-interface satisfaction of the web site. The web site was used as basis for compiling a survey questionnaire to test the degree to which respondents strongly agreed or disagreed with statements on the following features of the web site: Communication Relationship building Customer service Design Usability The questionnaire also covered aspects on computer and Internet usage experience, access and literacy of the respondents. The survey questionnaire was sent to the target population of primary clients of the participating company, the group of intended end users. The empirical results obtained indicated that employing good information architecture that is based on customers' needs, as well as the iterative development of a web site could assist a business-to-business company to create, establish and enhance a sustainable corporate image as perceived by their primary clients.
Thesis (DPhil (Information Science))--University of Pretoria, 2006.