Usability of Urban Local Body Websites and Service Quality of E-services

AuthorMercy Samuel,Manvita Baradi,Perez Christian,Gayatri Doctor
DOI10.1177/0019556120980874
Publication Date01 December 2020
SubjectArticles
Usability of Urban
Local Body Websites
and Service Quality of
E-services
Gayatri Doctor1, Mercy Samuel1,
Perez Christian1 and Manvita Baradi1
Abstract
Developments in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) field
have brought a significant change in the way citizens can interact with their gov-
ernments. Traditional governance has been digitalised to what we now know as
‘e-governance’. E-government investments in India had seen a ‘ten-fold increase’
in 2015 with the launch of the Digital India Mission as compared to previous
years. Despite this, in 2018, an e-government survey by the United Nations,
India’s E-government Development Index (EGDI) was 0.5669, just above the
world average of 0.55. As digital literacy is becoming increasingly common in
India, along with falling data prices, increasing smartphone and mobile usage, the
spotlight of e-government should focus on the usability and quality of its services
and platforms.
This article measures the usability of the Municipal or Urban Local Body (ULB)
websites and the service quality of its e-services. Separate evaluation frameworks
are used to measure the usability of the municipal e-government websites of
four Indian cities as well as the service quality of the four most commonly used
citizen services, viz. complaint registration, payment of property tax, payment
of professional taxes and birth/death registration. For this, a thorough study of
existent literature on the subject, comprehensive study of the selected websites
and discussions with domain experts have been conducted by the authors. The
article also discusses some qualitative issues on the usability of these websites
and services that were observed during the evaluation process.
Keywords
E-governance, municipal websites, website evaluation, e-services, service quality,
web-diagnostic tools
Article
Indian Journal of Public
Administration
66(4) 513–533, 2020
© 2021 IIPA
Reprints and permissions:
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DOI: 10.1177/0019556120980874
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1 Faculty of Management, CEPT University, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India.
Corresponding author:
Gayatri Doctor, Faculty of Management, CEPT University, K.L. campus, Navrangpura, Ahmedabad,
Gujarat 380009, India.
E-mail: gayatri.doctor@cept.ac.in
514 Indian Journal of Public Administration 66(4)
Introduction
Developments in the ICT field have brought a significant change in the way citi-
zens can interact with their governments. Traditional governance has been digital-
ised to what we now know as ‘e-governance’. World over, there has been a steady
increase in this digitalisation of governance, and it is primarily centred on utilis-
ing the internet and the ‘world wide web’ (United Nations, 2002) not only to
deliver public services more efficiently but also to benefit the implementing gov-
ernments themselves. E-governance can transform governments’ relations with
their citizens, businesses and other arms of government itself, and this yields ben-
efits such as ‘less corruption, increased transparency, greater convenience,
revenue growth, and/or cost reductions’ (Palvia & Sharma, 2007). E-government
has also dramatically increased the capacity for citizen participation in public
governance. The benefits of e-governance apply to both—the government that
deploys them as well as the citizens. The major spotlight of discourses concerning
e-governance and its efficacy remains on the benefits accruing to the citizens
since governments are primarily responsible to them. A significant amount of
public money is invested in setting up and managing e-governance platforms.
According to a Gartner Group report, Indian governments (at centre, states and
local levels) spent nearly $7.2 billion in 2016 on the development and mainte-
nance of e-governance (Chandran, 2016), and this figure was estimated at around
$8 billion for the year 2018. E-government investments in India had seen a ‘ten-
fold increase’ in 2015 with the launch of the Digital India Mission as compared to
the previous three years (Ghosh Roy & Upadhyay, 2017). Despite these signifi-
cant investments, according to the 2018 e-government survey by the United
Nations, India’s E-government Development Index (EGDI) was 0.5669, just
above the world average of 0.55. The common challenges to e-government
success in India include citizens’ aspects such as low literacy and IT literacy,
lack of awareness, low levels of trust for the government as well as for the e-
government portals, local language preference and poverty, and issues on supply
side, viz. issues pertaining to the user-friendliness of websites, their reliability,
interoperability and other accessibility issues (Bhatnagar & Singh, 2010; Dwivedi
& Bharti, 2010; Dwivedi et al., 2013; Mittal & Kaur, 2013; Narasimhan et al.,
2012; Ojha & Pandey, 2017). According to Cisco’s 2017 Visual Networking Index
report, India’s smartphone users will increase from 400 million in 2017 to more
than 800 million in 2022, which would make it the fastest-growing smartphone
market in the world. Additionally, the data prices have fallen by a drastic 90 per
cent in 2018 alone (Moses, 2018), which means the digital medium will signifi-
cantly be tapped by more citizens. As the citizens in the country take giant leaps
in digital literacy, the spotlight of e-government challenges falls on the quality of
its e-services and the platforms, thereby underlining the need to focus on evaluat-
ing them.
Evaluation of e-government performance is already a statutory requirement
for all local authorities in the UK (Kor et al., 2006) and is done at the national
level in Australia (National Office for the Information Economy Government
of Australia, 2003); similar assessments might be routinely undertaken across

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