An investigation into corporate web site design of leading consumer brand marketers in South Africa.
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Presently in South Africa, a large number of companies are developing an online presence. For established companies whose brands are already well entrenched in the minds of their consumers, the challenge lies in developing an online site that matches the expectations that consumers have come to rely on from that brand. It is interesting to analyse whether or not top companies employ similar web site design criteria as compared to the runner-up companies. This investigative study researches the application of web site design criteria by 102 leading consumer brand manufacturers in South Africa. Thirty-four objective, marketing-related site design sub-criteria were chosen and subsequently organised into 9 broad categories. These 102 leading manufacturers' sites were separated into leader sites (n=53) and runner-up sites (n=49), with the aim of identifying criteria (if any) that are specifically applied by leader sites as compared to runner-up sites. A quantitative approach was applied in this study. These web sites were checked for the application of each criterion and sub-criterion using content analysis, the results of which were recorded on a data sheet. The generated data was analysed using statistical software and specifically the statistical techniques of t-testing, cluster and discriminant analysis. The cluster analysis showed no difference in the application of web design criteria by leader and runner-up sites. However, the t-test revealed that the navigation and customer support criteria showed the most significant difference in its application between leader and runner-up sites. Discriminant analysis confirmed that navigation and customer support criteria were the most discriminating criteria, and also identified a third criterion of advertising/promotion/publicity. Additional research was undertaken to determine to what extent these three discriminating criteria were actually applied. This involved analysing the mean differences between the 'top 10 vs bottom 10' sites and 'top 30 vs bottom 30' sites. This additional effort further confirmed what was previously determined, that navigation, customer support and advertising/promotion/publicity are the three criteria which demonstrate a significant difference between leader and runner-up sites. This implies that most of the web sites of the top consumer brand manufacturers in South Africa clearly demonstrate application of these three criteria in the web design strategy.