Diplomatic missions have dual roles: providing government services to citizens abroad as well as marketing their countries for tourism and trade and investment purposes. A website is a vital channel for marketing and dissemination of information for diplomatic missions. Ensuring good usability and a consistent global brand is particularly important. Good usability ensures that the content and user interface is easy for visitors to understand and use and supports consistent branding. The purpose of this study was to use the websites of South African diplomatic missions in the United States to illustrate the need for an evaluative framework and guidelines in order to support good usability as well as consistent branding. Since no framework specifically aimed for the evaluation of diplomatic missions’ websites exist, aesthetic and informative evaluation measures based on Han and Mills’ online promotion instrument were used. The study found that each of the four websites have elements in common but that there is room for improvement both at an individual and collective level to improve the visual experience and the associated perception of the reliability and trustability of information presented to both user groups of the websites. The results illustrate the need for a framework adapted to the dual roles of diplomatic missions in general that can be used as basis for government guidelines whilst allowing some flexibility to meet local needs and requirements. The study provides an initial framework that can be used to assess diplomatic mission websites and can be further developed in future research to complement e-government research.
Tato, Gabriella and Ponelis, Shana R., "Evaluating Diplomatic Missions’ Websites: A Case Study of South Africa in the United States" (2012). MWAIS 2012 Proceedings. 3.