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Jonathan Sidi and Syahrul Nizam Junaini Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology Universiti Malaysia Sarawak

(UNIMAS) 94300 Kota Samarahan, Sarawak Tel: 082 583641, Fax: 082 583764 E-mail:,


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The migration from paper-based services to electronic version has developed the potential of e-government applications enormously. However, designing a credible government web site is not a simple task. This paper discusses the importance of credibility for the Malaysian states government web sites. Top web credibility factors are listed. Reviews on five state government websites are also presented. Assessment of the credibility issues were done on five state government sites, which are Sarawak, Selangor, Johor, Melaka and Kedah Government web site. We found that there are still room for improvement for the sites in terms of credibility and site appearance. Ke ywords: Website Credibility, Usability, E-government, portals.

The migration from paper-based services to electronic version has opened wide the potential of e-government application [5]. Hence, several state governments in Malaysia have started to have their online presence. However, designing a credible government website is a fairly complicated matter, let alone the measurement of its impact to the citizens. Credibility is emerging as a key element of success in the on-line environment, especially for a site involved with the government. In this paper, the assessment of the credibility issue was done on five pre-selected state government sites. The sites involved are Sarawak, Selangor, Johor, Melaka, and Kedah Government web sites. For ease of discussion, only the homepages were accessed and reviewed. We would like to highlight that all the states used the state name as the Uniform Resources Locator (URL) address, except for Johor ( and Negeri Sembilan ( The practice of using state name as the domain name is good for the user to easily remember the site address hence, improving site credibility. However, for reference, the list of all 13 state government sites in Malaysia along with the site address is shown in Table 1 below. Table 1 : State Governments Website Address No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 State government Sarawak Selangor Johor Melaka Kedah Perlis Pulau Pinang Perak Negeri Sembilan Pahang Terengganu Kelantan Sabah Site Address


This paper is presented as follows: In Section 2, a brief explanation about web credibility is given. We discuss several top credibility factors that can be deployed to improve the e-government web sites. Section 3 reviews the five home pages as mentioned above. Finally, in Section 4, we conclude with several suggestions on how all states government in Malaysia could improve their web site credibility and charisma.


Fogg et al. [2] proposed five areas that affect the credibility of a Web site. The factors are as follows: Real-world Presence. Designers can enhance the credibility of a Web site by conveying an organizations real world presence such as the physical address and phone number to users. S m a l l E r r o r s . An organization must take care to eliminate even small errors to ensure credibility of their web site. U s e r N a v i g a t i o n . Usability of site in terms of navigation can enhance the sites perceived credibility. Advertisement. Only place advertisement on web pages in ways that it does not distract readers. Technical Problems. The site must perform as users expect. Slow download time for instance affects site credibility. In another study Fogg et al. [4] mentioned that while evaluating the credibility of a web site, participants commented on the design look of the site most frequently compared to another factors. Complete list of the factors that they claimed affects site credibility is presented in Table 2 below. Table 2 : List of Credibility Factors [4] Topic of Credibility Design Look Information Design/Structure Information Focus Company Motive Usefulness of Information Accuracy of Information Name Recognition & Reputation Advertising Bias of Information Tone of the Writing Identity of Site Sponsor Functionality of Site Customer Service Past Experience with Site Information Clarity Performance on a Test Readability Affiliations Incidence 46.1% 28.5% 25.1% 15.5% 14.8% 14.3% 14.1% 13.8% 11.6% 9% 8.8% 8.6% 6.4% 4.6% 3.7% 3.6% 3.6% 3.4%


Prompted by demands for a more credible e-government site, players involved in setting up the government websites have been struggling with how to come up with a highly credible site. For example, the visitor who browses an e-government site can easily access the credibility of the information presented through text writing style and its relevancy. Sometimes, in certain cases, the sites that are controlled by the government may contain inaccurate and misleading information. For this reason, the web designers faced increasing demands to boost the credibility of the sites [3]. Other web credibility decisive factors are navigation, content, reliability and technicality [6]. These factors, even though seems general, may affect the credibility of the site. A survey done by Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab [7] shows that a clear answer to questions submitted by users makes websites more credible. The survey involved 1,481 users in Finland and the United States. Other significant factors were the links precision and absence of typographical errors. One main related study on e-government website usability was done by Tolbert and Mossberger [8]. They try to understand how individuals evaluate e-government content and credibility. It is important to assess and evaluate the factors related with e-government website. This is to ensure that the information and materials presented on the site satisfy citizens needs. Moreover, the user has the desire to know the source of information found in a web page. It is good for e-government website to provides users with such information that are crucial. Other than that, there are several other issues that influence how information on the web can be used effectively. The information provider especially the webmaster for e-government website must be careful, since the user can differentiate the material that is credible from that which is not. Generally, the user feels that a web site loses credibility when it has errors and technical problems. Distracting advertisements and banners also decreases its credibility. This paper addresses the web credibility issue for improving the way government disseminates their information online.


The percentage shows the incidence of the factors as reported by 2,684 respondents. Meanwhile, another credibility cue may include real-world feel [1]. It refers to indication of the government physical location i.e. the office building and how they can be contacted. The citizen need to know real people behind the website to be contacted should they have any questions.

long text in the middle columns could reduce site credibility. Normally, the user is more attracted with non-textual element on the site. We recommend that bulky paragraphs should be rectified into several smaller paragraphs. The information about latest update has not been included on the homepage. A credible site should be updated frequently. We propose that to improve site credibility, the latest details about information update be included somewhere at the bottom corner of the page. However, if the information has not been updated currently, the visitor could easily know that perhaps the site manager does really bother to update the site. The site only has three links in small banner format at the right portion of the page. However, the usage of animated banner is slightly less credible. We recommend that it is better to use static banner.

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Overall, in terms of design and appearance, the site looks simple and fairly straightforward. The state government crest is suitably located on the top-left portion of the page. Small top banner image of Kuching City on the right of the banner adds the credibility to the site. It helps the visitor to recognize Sarawak hence, improving site reputation. We suggest that better photographs of beautiful Sarawak panorama be placed on the homepage. It will be able to promote Sarawak, which is well known to have numerous tourist attractions. However, the site information structure is a little bit too conventional. Massive number of menu items makes the page looks less credible. There are too many menu items listed in the main menu. The best number of item should be around 7 2 (i.e. five or nine). This site has 12 menu items. Generally, the key to information design is a balance between breadth and depth of the site. The site should present only what is truly necessary for primary display on the homepage. The slightly less important information could be placed on the secondlevel page and not on the first page. The information clarity is fairly good. Perfect choice of fonts typeface and colour makes the site easy to read. For example, size of the font used for the highlight of events columns is highly readable and clear. Nevertheless,

Images of people are widely used in advertising and branding. It acts as a means of creating positive attitudes towards the products and credibility in brands. On this site, the usage of a real photos of the Chief Minister is a good way to improve site credibility. The practice of using real photos from the real event is better than using the portrait of the Chief Minister. In addition, the blur image of Kota Darul Ehsan arch on the top of the site perhaps would be better if it was in full-colour version. It will look more real compared to the one being used now. The source of information is an important criteria for evaluating site credibility. For the announcement column, for every announcement, it is better for the person who posts the announcement to use his/her position in the department rather than mentioning his/her name. Use submitted by <position> rather than submitted

by <name> . Credibility of the position or affiliation is better compared to personal name that may be anonymous.

the image or tourist attraction content using appropriate web scripting technology. In this way, the site would become more dynamic in nature.




The Chief Ministers Diary column is a credible way to represent Johor Governments initiative to announce their state leaders activity. Its also could improve citizen trust about the information provided. The disclaimer statement provided is also significant for the content provider. For the visitor, they can think that the site provider is really serious about their business. Other than that, the State Governments Administrative Building photograph used as the top image banner is a good way to improve site credibility. Light blue colour theme contributes power appearance to the site.

Among all the five websites above, the Kedah homepage is the most impressive in terms of credibility. The site is also comprehensive and presentable. All the icons together with the menu have been carefully designed. This factor is vital towards site credibility. The professional look and sleek design of the site element such as button and images is another contributor towards site credibility. However, in the hyperlinks section, too many links were listed, making the list look too cluttered.


We have presented a review on five e-government homepages in Malaysia. We also have included some comments with regards to sites credibility. It is crucial for the webmasters to improve their sites to ensure that their sites appearance have strong credibility. In the near future, analysis of differences in web credibility perceptions by gender, age, income, experience level, and nationality can be done. In conclusion, the state governments should exploit this opportunity to improve their site credibility. A highly credible site could attract worldwide audience. It could lead to inward investment for their state. To do so, the information on the site has to portray state achievements and promote any related developments.

The welcome message from the Chief Minister in multimedia format (video) shows the Melaka Governments initiative to improve its site quality and credibility. The site displays historic cultural heritage site on the homepage. We recommend that to improve this functionality, the site should be able to randomly change

[1] Collins, J. (2006) An investigation of web-page credibility, Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges archive, Volume 21, Issue 4, April 2006, Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges, pp. 16 21. Fogg, B.J., Swani, P., Treinen, M., Marshall, J., Osipovich, A., Varma, C., Laraki, O., Fang, N., Paul, J., Rangnekar, A., and Shon, J. (2000). Elements that affect Web credibility: Early results from a self-report study. Proceedings of CHI00, Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, ACM Press, New York, pp. 287-288. Fogg, B.J. and Tseng, H. (2003). The Elements of Computer Credibility. Proceedings of the CHI Conference on Human Factors and Computing Systems, 1999, ACM Press, New York, pp. 80-87. Fogg, B.J., Soohoo, C., Danielson, D.R., Marable, L., Stanford, J. & Tauber, E.R. (2003). How do users evaluate the credibility of Web sites? A study with over 2,500 participants. Proceedings of Designing for User Experiences Conference, DUX2003, ACM Press, New York, pp. 1-15.


Ke, Weiling and Wei, K.K. (2004). Successful e-government in Singapore, Communications of the ACM, June 2004, Vol. 47, No. 6, ACM Press, New York. pp. 95-99. Merwe, R van der and Bekker, J. (2003). A framework and methodology for evaluating e-commerce web sites. Int e rn e t R ese arch: e l e ctronic N e tworking Application s and Policy. Vol. 13, No.5, pp. 330-341. Stanford Web Credibility Research,



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[7] [8]


Tolbert, C. and Mossberger, K. (2003). The Effects of E-Government on Trust and Confidence in Government. Proceedings of the 2003 annual national conference on Digital government research, Digital Government Research Center, pp. 1-7.