Evaluating government Web site with a citizen-centric approach

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Sciences


Stuart Ira Bretschneider


Web site, E-government, Citizen-centric, Contextual evaluation, Experimental method

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


Driven by the increasing awareness regarding benefits from Web-based service delivery, and pushed by laws and policies, the World Wide Web has become an indispensable means for the U.S. government to deliver services to the public. Considering the enormous financial and organizational investment associated with these Web-based government initiatives, an evaluation on the performance of Web-based service delivery is necessary to help ensure the expected return. The evaluation should particularly be aligned with citizens' characteristics and needs, and with consideration of the service access context, including services to be reached and Web site attributes. The fit among these factors plays an important role in affecting citizens' experience in using government Web sites, hence the scale of using Web-based services, and ultimately the returns from service delivery.

Little work in current research on government Web site evaluation was found with an emphasis on citizens' behavior pattern and the contextual fit. An evaluation framework with citizen's perspective and focusing on contextual factors' interaction is proposed in this work. It measures Web-based service delivery performance by examining citizens' information seeking performance at a government site. Furthermore, by viewing the performance as a result of the fit among involved contextual factors, the framework enables government agencies to identify in-depth reasons for improving service delivery. Four steps were suggested for applying the proposed evaluation framework.

This framework has been applied in a public, medium-sized urban school district to determine its utility in a real context. The four steps for applying the proposed framework were followed and data were collected using an experimental method with repeated measures design. Modular experiment instruments were developed to provide the advantage of flexible modification based on research needs. Moreover, they make it possible to examine a live Web site without interfering with its operation and without relying on a Web site host for data collection.

Results from the application demonstrated that the framework has the ability to measure Web site performance in service delivery and provide direction to assess effects from influencing factors. However, variable measures design and experiment implementation created limited findings; therefore, future work is needed for improvement.


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