Effects of information Architecture on Agriculture Website usability: A comparative study between Cgiar Research Map and Kenya Agriculture Information Network (kainet)
Websites are an important link in the exchange of agricultural information between the providers and users of the information. The high growth rate of information and communication technology (ICT) has seen a surge not only in the number of websites being designed but also in the design style and standards being applied by web developers when designing and building websites. This study compared two websites, the CGIAR Research Map, designed using the matrix information architecture and the Kenya Agriculture Information Network (KAINet) website designed using the hierarchical information architecture and the effects of these designs on various usability criteria. Two integrated test methods, testing with end users and inspection methods were applied in order to collect usability information from the websites so as to realize the objectives of the study. Websites usability information was obtained from a random sample on 126 websites end users and the study‘s websites developer‘s provided information on the website administration. In the second method, four evaluators reviewed the websites by checking against a set of usability criteria. The design and graphic features in the matrix design is a feature that was seen to attract more users to share information. The cost of maintaining information in the matrix designed website in terms of the number people responsible for updating information and the frequency of checking information in the back end by the administrators was found to be higher than that of the hierarchical designed website. Further, the search function design of the websites was important to the clicks on target when users carried out a search, with the matrix design listing more hits on targets. Overall, the findings revealed that users prefer different usability features in different architectures with the CGIAR Research Map exhibiting more robustness.