e-National Bank:How to Establish Effective Communication

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e-National Bank:How to Establish Effective Communication

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The problem of the report: how can the webmasters of central bank site improve the efficiency of its communicative features? To solve the problem one have to answer the following questions: what aspects should be concerned to evaluate communicative features National Banks web sites from the point of an ordinary user and which site is less corresponding to these given criteria?

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  1. MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND SCIENCES DONETSK NATIONAL TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN LANGUAGES FOR PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATION Business Communication Curse Paper Group # 8 e-National Bank: How to Establish Effective Communication Made by students: Artem Zinoviev – IBA02A Bogdan Meshko – IBA02B Max Bardega – IBA02A Helen Vyalova – IBA02A Dima Gasilo – IBA02A Supervisor N. U. Todorova Donetsk 2005
  2. 2 FOREWORD Finally, we have done it! Dozen of sleepless nights, dozen of smoked cigarette packs, hours spend on the Internet and hundreds cups of tee and coffee, - these are our losses while doing this project. But a lot of new acquired knowledge and experience: work with MS Explorer and Opera, designing tricks, HTML, structure of bank web-site, teamwork etc, - these plusses easily paid off our efforts. Don’t be very strict while reading our paper because we went a long distance to produce our brainchild and some mistakes are still can be found. We will be greatly pleased to hear Your critics and we will take all of them into account in case we have to write this (or another one of this kind) project again. Thus do not hesitate to mail us: artzinoviev@mail.ru. Great thanks to those who consulted us on designing issues: Dima Pavlov (Playmarket, web-designer), Yana Glatkikh (Oxford School, student, designer). Also special thanks to “Metro” Internet provider. Team #8
  3. 3 SUMMARY Report. 35 pages. 11 figures. 1 table, 8 sources. 3 appendixes. INTERNET, SITE, USER, NATIONAL BANK OF UKRAINE, CENTRAL EUROPEAN BANK, FEDERAL RESERVE SISTEM, BUSINESS COMMUNICATION, CRITERIA, USABILITY, NAVIGATION, MENU, SCROLLING, GRAPHIC, FONT, BACKGROUND, JARGON, INFORMATION. The problem of the report: how can the webmasters of central bank site improve the efficiency of its communicative features? To solve the problem one have to answer the following questions: what aspects should be concerned to evaluate communicative features National Banks web sites from the point of an ordinary user and which site is less corresponding to these given criteria? This report is devoted to analysis of the sites of European Union (www.ecb.int), Ukrainian (www.bank.gov.ua) and American (www.federalreserve.gov) central banks. These sites provide the most reliable and up-dated information of economic situation within a country. Efficiency of work with these sites (for users) depends on how these sites are organized from the business communicational point of view. The report contains 3 chapters. In the first chapter we analyze specifics of central banks sites and develop correspondent criteria to evaluate them. The second chapter is devoted to evaluation of the sites according to the criteria developed in the previous chapter. It also includes comparative analysis of the sites. In the final third chapter recommendations on improving the NBU site are given. These recommendations reflect best sides of communication aspects of other two sites and personal thoughts of the research group about these sites.
  4. 4 TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction 5 1 Evaluation Criteria For National Banks Sites 7 1.1 Usability Of A Site 8 1.2 Verbal And Visual Rendering 11 1.3 Informational Content 13 1.4 Multiculturality 14 2 Web Sites’ Evaluation 16 2.1 Sites’ Description 16 2.1.1 National Bank Of Ukraine 16 2.1.2 European Central Bank 19 2.1.3 Federal Reserve System Of The USA 21 2.2. Comparative Analysis 24 3 Recommendations On Improving The NBU Web Site 28 3.1 Usability 28 3.2 Verbal And Visual Rendering 29 3.3 Informational Content 29 3.4 Multiculturality 29 Conclusion 31 Bibliography 32 Appendix A First Page Of The NBU Site 33 Appendix B First Page Of The ECB Site 34 Appendix C First Page Of The FRS Site 35
  5. 5 INTRODUCTION In the fast changing world who has up-to-date and reliable information is able to influence current events. Especially it concerns economic field where information changes every moment. Nowadays the most convenient and easily accessible source of information is the Internet. The most reliable source of information about financial situation of a country on the Internet provides institutions that regulate economy. One of the most authoritative organizations among these institutions are central banks. That is why we decided to write our report about web-sites of these banks assuming them as a business communicative tool. For our research we have chosen sites of the following Central Banks: - The National Bank of Ukraine (www.bank.gov.ua ) - The Central European Bank (www.ecb.int) - Federal Reserve System of the USA (www.federalreserve.gov) These sites represent different scale: The National Bank of Ukraine is the Central Bank of unitary country (also it’s site of our country), Federal Reserve System of the USA is the Central Bank of federal state and The Central European Bank that represents unity of European countries. The definition of the problem is: “How can the webmasters of central bank site improve the efficiency of its communicative features?” This problem requires solving of the following questions: 1. What aspects should be concerned to evaluate communicative features National Banks web sites from the point of an ordinary user? 2. Which site is less corresponding to our given criteria? The purpose of the report is to give recommendations to the site that will get fewer points due to the evaluation. In our research we have used the following methods: deductive and inductive methods, comparative analysis method, statistical method and method of Jasper Springers [3], [4]. In the first part of our course paper we will develop criteria that correspond to the aspects that provide effective business communication via the Internet sites. Sometimes we will use criteria
  6. 6 that have already been developed by other researchers. We will base both on our own and other students experience and expectations of what they want to find on these sites. In the second chapter each site will be evaluated with the help of criteria named in the first chapter. Than we will compare sites and define strong sides of each site and choose the one which gained the most points. Finally in the third chapter we will develop recommendations to the site that gains less points in the previous chapter. These recommendations will base on other sites we have evaluated and our own ideas concerning business communication efficiency.
  7. 7 1 EVALUATION CRITERIA FOR NATIONAL BANKS SITES What aspects should be taken into account to evaluate communicative features of national (central) banks web sites from the point of an ordinary user? To answer this question we should first specify some features that concern sites of National Banks. Firstly, these sites are non-commercial but informative thus they have no special appeal like “buy our products” or “use our services”. Secondly, central banks sites purpose is to inform people about economic situation within a country (union of countries) and they are the first to provide this information because they receive this information directly from central banks. Therefore this information might be demanded by foreigners that is why national banks sites should be multi-culturally oriented. Thirdly, National Banks sites (at least those we have overviewed) are designed and mastered by special department which are structural units of these financial institutes. These features will automatically expulse the importance of hooking a client because he may no find other sources of some specific information and focus our attention on what information site provides us with and of what quality it is. We are going to design some criteria from the user’s side. Very specific technical terms are not of vital importance here. Ordinary user is not aware of processor used to create a site, server, database program, type of graphic files etc. He is interested in information, time that may consume to find this data and money he will pay for traffic or time spent on using the site1 (in case he should pay for it at all). This is the background to create any criteria to evaluate national bank site. We will formulate our criteria in questions. If an answer on a particular question is “yes” than we put “1” point. Otherwise we put “0” point. In this way it will be convenient to figure out the final result of each chosen site. Now let us talk more about what criteria we assume are important while evaluating a national bank site. 1 Some Internet providers charge their users fees for amount of information downloaded from Internet. Others charge for time spent in the net.
  8. 8 1.1 USABILITY OF A SITE If you are an ordinary user you visit a national bank site in order to find some information. For instance, let it be a Balance of Payment2 in 2004. Is it is so then usability of site is how quickly you will find any reference on this particular issue. How many mouse clicks may you do visit to reach this information? Jasper Sprengers, the designer of Dutch web-design company Abeleto (www.abeleto.nl) defines usability as “the decisive quality criterion for a website” [3]. In his work concerning usability of a web-site he says that this criterion is one that user defines but not experts. “No objective method can tell us whether a website is really usable unless we have observed ordinary people using it” [3]. What we are going to do is also to use sites of Ukrainian, European Union and the USA central banks and give our say on how usable they are. While using we will look at the following points: Navigability Navigation is a system that every web-site needs to orient its user where he is and where he can go [6, p. 206]. Therefore navigability is how easily a user can understand in what part of a web-site he is, find a link for the next part or turn back to previous one. Successful navigation system can spark user’s interest to use site further whereas unsuccessful one (or it absence at all) give user no chance to somehow learn the structure of a site and find information he is looking for. As far as navigability is concerned, while using each site we will answer the following questions: 1. Does site have any navigation system? It could be graphical and/or word hyperlinks. 2. Is this navigation is intuitive, simple and obvious? It means how easily can user understand where this or that navigation item leads? 3. “Can user with the help of site navigation jump to any part within it?” [1] This question is about how navigation system covers sites structure. The answer “yes” accounts for 2 Balance of Payment (POB) – systematic count on every business operation between resident of our country and foreigners. Usually POB is an annual document. To regulate POB is responsibility of national banks
  9. 9 menu that provide access to every site’s main structural unit. Otherwise the answer is “no”. Special print and save function The nature of information that has been given on national banks sites is such that it sometimes needs to be printed or downloaded. In case a page contains a lot of graphical elements it may be inconvenient to print it on black & white printer or save it on the HDD3. For this purposes special function can be designed that provides user with non-graphical copy of desirable information. It could be either pdf (Adobe Acrobat Reader file) format, or doc (Ms Word file) or html (Ms Internet Explorer file). It may contain some graphic that illustrates content of the information and some logos but nor navigation, nor big advertisement banners. It saves both your ink and free megabytes. Figure 1.1 shows an example of copy function given to every article on www.economins.com web site. This function generates html page with only site logo, one little advertisement and graphs that refer to the article. Fig 1.1 Example of a “Printable page” function on www.economist.com web-site. To define whether chosen sites provide this service we will ask the following question: “Is there a separate link to a complete document for printing and saving?” [4] The same question Mr. Sprengers recommends in his evaluating criteria. Search system Search system is very convenient in case user doesn’t know where he can find information he is looking for. If site has this service user may find any data he wants just typing a key words in the input area and than look through the links searching system has printed on user’s screen. It 3 HDD – (abbrev the Hard Disk Driver) – the devise in computer that keeps all information that user saves.
  10. 10 saves time that is vitally important in business. The example of search system can be seen on figure 1.2. Fig. 1.2. Search system on www.ati.com web-site. Concerning search system, we will look whether our chosen sites have it. If there is any search system on the site? Vertical scrolling Usually, users have 1024x768 display resolution. In case information layout is bigger than user screen he has to scroll the window. “Users may not notice there is content following if a small section of the screen is not visible. While screen sizes vary both in inches and pixel-depth, a good standard to work from would be 800x600 pixels, while making sure that content can always wrap and tables are sized relative to the window size”, says Jasper Sprengers [4]. He also says that in case site has vertical scrolling it should not be more that 1,5 screens [4]. The next questions arise: 1. Can user see the whole first page without scrolling? 2. In case of documents or statistics, are they longer than ideal (1,5 screens)? Size (in kilobytes) of the home page The more size of a page the longer it loads. Sometimes big first pages annoy users who have slow Internet speed. In fact in our country most users connect to Internet via dual-up4 that is rather slow comparing with others methods of accessing. “The benefits of a page that loads quickly are nearly always greater than more impressive artwork, given average bandwidth” says Mr. Sprengers [4]. 4 Dual-up – method of the Internet accessing via the telephone line.
  11. 11 Which site has the biggest first page? – This question we will answer. The biggest page will be assessed with “0” points, mid-sized – “1” and the lesser – “2” points. 1.2 VERBAL AND VISUAL RENDERING These criteria are devoted to user’s perception of a site. They refer to the language wed- designers use on their site, readability of the text, background of text area and its combination with text. Language Language is correlated with user’s ability to understand what is written on a site. That is why web-designers should carefully define the audience of their site and choose type of language that corresponds it. In case national banks sites, user that visit them in order to find some information are at least in the know what national bank does (visiting without purpose is omitted). If web-masters use language overloaded with special jargon it can cause one of the following reaction: 1. “the content is suspect and the language is being used to “hide” rather than reveal an understanding of the issue” [2]; 2. “the content was developed by a person who does not understand the target audience” [2]; 3. “the site is linking to technical sites without a careful review of the links or without appropriate identification of the site visitor” [2]; 4. “the site has not clearly identified its audience” [2] For national bank site purpose to show how knowledgeable its stuff is by using a lot of jargon is not of paramount importance. It first should make verbal layout understandable and only than fill it with some special economical terms.
  12. 12 Spelling mistakes are also assumed as undesirable thing. Of course it is mostly impossible to make no mistakes, but a lot of them really spoil “a spirit of science” that actually should be on sites like those of national banks. Do our sites’ web-masters follow the same idea as to language? We will check it with the following questions: 1. Does the site frequently use of economic jargon? 2. Are there spelling mistakes? We will check spelling mistakes by opening several saved pages in Word 2002 processor and check it for mistakes. Text and background Combination of font color and type with background is the most to influence readability of text. Compare four instances given in figure 1.3 (a–d). Figure 1.3 (a, b) shows combinations of font and background colors. Most users will assume (b) figure as more readable than (a). Whereas figures (c) and (d) show different fonts on the same background. The difference also speaks for itself – (c) is more or less readable comparing with (d). Dmitriy Kirsanov, the author of book about web-design, says that “the first demand to the pair text and background is sufficient contrast between them that provides comfortable, easy reading” [6, p.132]. Bad example of font Acceptable and background Figure 1.2 (a). Bad example of font and Figure 1.2 (c). Acceptable background and font. background Good example of Non acceptable font and Figure 1.2 (d). Non-acceptable background and background font. Figure 1.2 (b). Good example of font and background Taking into account what was said, we should investigate the sites on the next matter: Does combination of text and background provides comfortable and easy reading?
  13. 13 1.3 INFORMATIONAL CONTENT The main information we expect on national banks sites is legislative and regulation documents, statistics and reports. Thus we can develop criteria that check whether site contains all information we need. Informational content is essential as far as business communication is concerned. It defines what information and of what quality user can get on a site because this information may influence on his decision-making. Statistics, Publishing, News There will be no questions to this criterion. What we will do is rank sites according to the information they provide and how frequently they do it. The more statistics, articles and documents we find the higher rate site gets. What about quality of the info? Therefore there three available rates: 3, 2, 1. The most informative site gets 3 and vice versa. In order to restrict our search we will look for information in “statistics”, “publishing” and “news” sections. Information on the First Page Some information should be printed right on the first page. It helps user who visits national bank site to get some information immediately without further using the site. Important information on the first page will be overviewed using the following checklist: 1. Physical address of the national bank on index page 2. Current economic indicators 3. E-mail address to send feedback to the web-masters (with mailto HTML tag5) Up-dated Information This criterion refers to statistics and news. We look through the news and statistics and say how frequently it was up-dated. Than we separately put rate for news and statistics. Below are given rates and corresponding criteria to evaluate chosen sites. News: 3 – “every day” 5 HTML tag - is a special command that provides opportunity to start writing an e-mail text right after click on correspondent hyperlink.
  14. 14 2 – “every 2 days” 1 – “every week” 0 – “less then once a week” Statistics: 3 – “every day” 2 – “every week” 1 – “every month” 0 – “every quarter” Informative page titles At this point we will try to compare the title of a page and information it contains. It’s also crucial that title corresponds with content because when user opens this or that page he first looks at title to foresee what he can learn from this page (at least rational user will do to safe his time). Each site we chose will be characterized using the following question of Jasper Sprengers: “Does the title of the page body explain what the page is about?” 1.4 MULTICULTURALITY As we have sad at the beginning of this chapter sites of national banks may be visited be foreigners. Thus it’s essential that these sites should have multinational support. The most obvious support is language. Multi-Languages Support Because people can find an access to any information through Internet this information should be somehow universalized. We conceder language – is the best tool to do this. English, as the worldwide most spread language, can pretend to be this tool. Thus, sites that will evaluate should have at least English version support and moreover this version should be up-dated as the national language. In case of two or more national languages every of them should be equally up-dated. The following criteria occur:
  15. 15 Does the site provide up-dated multi-language support? Intercultural Interactive Foreign users may have some questions to the web-masters. For example they can’t find some information of they don’t understand how this particular bank operates. In these cases special FAQ (frequently asked questions) section should be provided. Also FAQ section can be useful for non-foreigners if they have some questions about central bank and its functions, responsibilities etc. Any other forms of intercultural interaction are also welcomed, e.g. forum, chat or guestbook. Does the site have any form of intercultural interaction?
  16. 16 2 WEB SITES’ EVALUATION In this chapter we will evaluate sites of National Bank of Ukraine, Central European Bank and Federal Reserve System of the USA taken into account our developed in the previous chapter criteria. Also we will compare the results and define which site got the highest point and which site needs further development. 2.1 SITES’ DESCRIPTION 2.1.1 NATIONAL BANK OF UKRAINE Address: www.bank.gov.ua Usability Navigability 1. Does site have any navigation system? Yes it has navigation system that is hyperlinks at the top of the window (see figure 2.1). Figure 2.1. Navigation system of www.bank.gov.ua 2. Is this navigation is intuitive, simple and obvious? Yes it is. Knowing the basics of economy we could easily foresee what means every hyperlink of the menu. 3. Can user with the help of site navigation jump to any part within it? Yes, he can. We visited every unit of the menu and they did cover every section that site had. Special print and save function
  17. 17 4. Is there a separate link to a complete document for printing and saving?”. Yes every document has this function. Statistical data has both *.pdf or *.xls6 format that is easy to print and save. Reports and statement are in *.pdf format. Search system 5. If there is any search system on the site? Yes, it has. Navigation menu has special section “Search” at the top right corner. See figure 2.1. Vertical Scrolling 6. Can user see the whole first page without scrolling? No, he can’t. At the first page we had to scroll 1,5 window to reach the bottom. 7. In case of documents or statistics, are they longer than ideal (1,5 screens)? Yes, we opened the first page and we had to scroll 3 windows. Size (in kilobytes) of the home page 8. Which site has the biggest first page? The first page has 245 kb. Further answer needs evaluation of all sites (see point 2.2) Verbal and Visual Rendering Language 9. Does the site frequently use of economical jargon? Yes, it has a lot of jargon. To get the meaning of documents user need to have deep knowledge in economics. 10. Are there spelling mistakes? No, we found no mistakes in 4 overviewed articles. Text and background 11. Does combination of text and background provides comfortable and easy reading? Yes, it has black font on white background that provides user with easy reading (See appendix 1). Informational Content Statistics, Publishing, News 12. This criterion needs comparative analyses. See point 2.2. Information on the First Page 6 Extension of Microsoft Excel file
  18. 18 13. Physical address of the national bank on index page. Yes, we found this information at the bottom of the site. 14. Current economical indicators. Yes, this information is on the left side of the web-page. 15. E-mail address to sand feedback to the web-masters (with mailto HTML tag). Yes, e-mail address (with mailto tag) is given near the navigation system (see appendix 1). Up-dated Information 16. News. News are up-dated ones a month in one bag *.pdf package. Thus we give 0 points. 17. Statistics. Statistical data is up-dated once a quarter. Thus “0” points. Informative page titles 18. Does the title of the page body explain what the page is about? Yes, it does. Every site section has its own title. Multiculturality Multi-Languages Support 19. Does the site provide up-dated multi-language support? The site supports English language, but no Russian language on which speaks great part of Ukrainian citizens. English version has less information that Ukrainian version has. Intercultural Interactive 20. Does the site have any form of intercultural interaction? No, it has neither FAQs, nor forum or other interactive forms. Special Notes www.bank.gov.ua is a well organized site. We found it easy to work with him. What lacks him is a bit “friendly” design especially in colors because present colors are depressing.
  19. 19 2.1.2 EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK Address: www.ecb.int Usability Navigability 1. Does site have any navigation system? Yes, the site has navigation system. See figure 2.2. It is hyperlinks at top of the page. Also site has 2 additional menus: one at the right site and one at the top (see figure 2.2). Figure 2.2. Navigation System of www.ecb.int. 2. Is this navigation is intuitive, simple and obvious? Yes, it is intuitive and simple. It is emphasized and we could easily guess what each item means. 3. Can user with the help of site navigation jump to any part within it? Yes, he can. Via the navigation system we could get every main section of the site. Special print and save function 4. Is there a separate link to a complete document for printing and saving? Not every document has this special function. Press releases are not useful to be printed because they contain all graphical elements. Statistical data has *.pdf format. Search system 5. If there is any search system on the site? Yes, it has. It is a special section of additional menu (see figure 2.3). Figure 2.3. Hyperlink for search system on www.ecb.int. Vertical Scrolling
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