Rationale and Research Questions
|Rationale and Research Questions
When considering the theoretical perspectives
that encompass web communication, this research looked at one example of
a completed work dedicated to determining the effectiveness of military
web sites. A survey directed to webmasters, was conducted by the Directorate
of Information Management (DOIM), at Fort Riley, Kansas, in October 1999,
to gather historical and logistical information about military web sites
(see appendix one).
This study queried webmasters
from ten military installations within Army Forces Command (FORSCOM), using
a telephone survey. During this survey, installation webmasters were asked
to describe their web site operation and its effectiveness. Interviews
were non-structured and later analyzed for consistent themes in an attempt
to answer and provide suggestions in reference to the logistical aspect
of maintaining a web site.
Resulting data showed that two
installations felt there was enough personnel to adequately manage the
web sites. In both cases, each installation had one full-time person working
on the Internet, as well as a full-time employee to work the intranet.
One installation was in the process of establishing a full-time webmaster
position. Three of the ten installations reported that they did not have
full-time personnel dedicated to web communication.
Additionally, eight of the ten
installations do not presently have people dedicated full-time to webmaster
and web administrator positions. Eight of the ten installations felt
there was inadequate staffing to effectively manage the web sites (i.e.,
ineffective in policing, updating, and managing the existing information
on the web site).
As a result of the reduced personnel
strength available, eight of the ten installations gave individual units
and activities more responsibility to create and maintain web sites. This
has resulted in a lack of consistency in appearance, quality and style
of information, and seriously degraded overall site navigation.
The DOIM at Fort Riley concluded
that a fundamental principle of good web design is that a web site should
appear the same from page to page, and navigation should be standard and
predictable throughout the site. FORSCOM web sites are deteriorating into
a collection of incongruous web pages in design, architecture, navigation
and content. It would appear more resources and centralized development
of web sites at the installation level are required to ensure a quality
web site at each installation.
Based on this initial study, this
research looks to answer the following research questions through the theoretical
perspective of Chaos, Uses and Gratifications and Agenda-setting theories:
RQ 1: What is the purpose and
value of web communication via web sites?
In considering previous research
done with the private sector and the amount of available government information
online, another question is raised:
RQ2: Have the Armed Forces
been effective in presenting information to the user through Internet communication
via web sites?
What if, through further studies,
it is proven that the military has not met its purpose of presenting information
via web communication, or if it has, it has not been done effectively?
To ensure this does not happen, the Air Force proposal could be imposed
DoD wide leading to yet another question:
RQ3: What concerns would
exist if DoD took primary control of all its web sites?
This research conducted a survey
of all DoD webmasters in an attempt to answer these questions.