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Study Level: BTech, BSc, BEng, BA, HND, ND or NCE
Internet has become ubiquitous and organizations have moved from having their information only in physical files to having them online via their websites. Over the years, different websites‘ evaluation tools have been developed to assist web administrators with the maintenance of their websites. Before a proper website assessment can be done with these evaluation tools, the web administrator would have to access many of these evaluation tools from different locations. Reasons been that, different tools were developed to measure different parameters that contribute to having a good quality website. Later, Fuzz-web was developed to capture more parameters but with a limitation of the system having to depend on some of these evaluation tools for inputs, meaning unavailability of these tools will lead to the failure of fuzz-web. To overcome these problems, this research establishes a Fuzzy-Based Website Quality Assurance System using fuzzy logic principles and Java programming language to develop the system. The result of the developed system is the detection of broken links, slow loading pages, Hypertext Transfer Protocol related errors in websites, and the overall quality status of the website.The developed system eradicates the dependence on external evaluation tools and with the information provided, allows web administrators to be proactive in amending errors.
1.1 Background to the Study
According to Encarta dictionaries (2009), information is defined as the knowledge acquired or supplied about something or somebody; the collected facts and data about a specific subject; the communication of facts and knowledge. It is often said that information is power. The importance of information to individuals and organizations and the need to manage it well is growing rapidly. Now more than ever, we need to understand the critical role information plays in some aspects of business and life. It drives our communication, our decision making and our reactions to the entire environment. It is no longer news that many organizations are moving information about their products and services online, because they have realized that they have to be online to compete in this fast-paced information age.
According to Brahima (2014), recent statistics on Information Technology show that by the end of 2014, there would be almost 3 billion Internet users, two-thirds of which will be coming from the developing countries, and that the number of mobile-broadband subscriptions would reach 2.3 billion globally. Fifty-five per cent of these subscriptions are expected to be in the developing countries. According to Kende (2014), the global proportion of people using the Internet has risen at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12% in the period 2008-2012, reaching a level of 37.9% of the global population in 2013. The increase in usage is particularly evident in those regions that had lower levels of Internet usage in 2008, with the comparable growth rates for the period in sub-Saharan Africa and emerging Asia-Pacific exceeding 20%. With these research results, it is obvious that the number of Internet users has increased and still increasing.
People are more informed than ever these days. People put in a lot of time and effort to conduct detailed research before making an online purchase. In fact, 63% of people use the Internet as their first resource when looking for a local service or product, according to a study by Nielsen (2009). According to Discover Small Business Watch Survey (2012), 3,000 people were surveyed and 47% of them responded that they are more likely to purchase services or products from a small business with a website. This indicates that people are more willing to trust businesses that have a website.
Additionally, putting your business online increases its chances of being listed in search sites, like Google, Yahoo and Bing. This will help people find your business more easily online and direct them to your website or store. Considering the testimony of Michelle Braun, owner of Final Touch Housekeeping in Aurora, Colo., inVistaprint (2012), she saw an increase in business after creating a website. Braun initially used flyers and other printed materials to promote her business, but customers kept asking for her web address andshe quickly got a successful website up and running in July 2009. She witnessed an increase in the number of deals she closed, within a year she was able to do bids for 500 or 600 people, all contacted through her website
According to Ghandour (2011), Website is a sales channel (sometimes a business sole‘s interface) between the business, customers and the world at large. In the contemporary competitive business environment, an innovative, well-designed and managed website can provide the advantage abusiness needs to conduct its activities successfully. Having a website attracts some business benefits; it is a great way to increase business sales and leads. Websites broaden the market reach for business and provide customers 24/7 access to products and/or services. For small-to-medium sized businesses, a website can level the playing field when competing with larger companies. Having a website tells your customers you are committed to your business and to competing with other companies. A website also allows you to make connections with people and one of the most important aspects of developing your business is networking. Any good salesperson can tell you it‘s not what you know, it‘s who you know. A website can allow you to make contacts 24 hours a day and for a very limited cost.
- A potential buyer of a company’s product tries to browse through the company’s online catalogue, but the product’s gallery section of the website has an error, so the potential buyer simply moves on to the company’s competitor website, browses their catalogue and makes his purchase.
- A potential customer needs a particular service or needs to make a purchase, decides to browse through company‘s sites offering the desired service / product, only to find out that a particular site is not opening on time while other competitors‘ sites have opened and he has checked what he needs, he definitely would have lost interest in the site that is not opening even if they have the best offer compared to their competitors.
In the scenarios considered in a and b above, the problem was with the maintenance of the website. Most effort in this regard has always been manual, such that a resource or team, usually from the IT department of an organisation is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring the website is well maintained but this can become overwhelming when web pages and/or content increases. When this happens, it becomes a tedious task for resource or team in charge to cover all the pages of the website and make sure that they are running without errors. The Information Technology (IT) staff may not be aware of the error(s) till it becomes an issue, which may have resulted in loss of customers or customer‘s confidence in the company or loss of revenue altogether. Over the years, some developers introduced different tools that can be used by web administrators to maintain their websites. But the limitation with these tools is that each tool addresses a particular problem, for example, a tool might be used to identify broken links on websites while another might be for identifying the speed of webpage load etc. Meaning, for a web administrator, to identify more than one problem on a particular website at a time, he /she will need to have access to different tools. What if any of these tools becomes unavailable, it means the web administrator will not be able to run a broad maintenance check on the website.
1.2 Problem Statements
Can a system be developed that:
- Assesses a website by putting into consideration more parameters that contribute to having a good quality website?
- Assesses a website without depending on external evaluation tools?
- Allows for interoperability between components that contribute to having a good quality website?
1.3 Motivation For The Study
Fuzzy logic is a tool that enables the solution of difficult simulated problems with many inputs and output variables that is able to give results in the form of recommendation for a specific interval of output state. No wonder that it is in use in the field of Artificial intelligence to develop various fuzzy control systems. This powerful tool can likewise be adopted to develop a self-sufficient system that can assist web administrators to assess their websites for quality status rating per time.
1.4 Aim and Objectives of the Study
The aim of this research is to develop a system that answers all the questions asked in the problem statements section.The objectives of the research are to:
- Formulate fuzzy rules to guide the decision making of the system
- Design a fuzzy based website quality Assurance System
- Implement the system
The approaches that will be applied in achieving our aim and objectives in this dissertation are to:
- Review related work on website quality assurance systems.
- Identify the input parameters, output parameters, their linguistic terms and use MATLAB to generate their membership functions.
- Formulate the fuzzy rules to guide the decision making of the system
- Develop and implement the proposed system using Java as the programming language and Netbeans IDE 8.1.
- Summaries the developed system‘s result and compare the result with previous workpresented in tabular and graphical forms.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The work is limited to developing a fuzzy based website quality Assurance System for a business / organisation websites, by combining into a system, three parameters (checks for broken links, webpage speed load and errors) that contribute to having a high quality website.
1.7 Contribution of the Study to Knowledge
This research hopes to make a meaningful contribution in the aspect of website maintenance. A fuzzy logic technique is adopted because of its capability in bringing an expert‘s skill to solve problems of incomplete knowledge or imprecise data. Its contributions are:
- Production of a system that does not depend on external evaluation tools before identifying broken links, http response status related errors, webpage speed on a website.
- Provision of a system that uses the principles of fuzzy logic to ascertain the overall quality status of website(s), thereby allowing for pro-activeness in amending errors on time.