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eIndices Methodology

eIndices are based on the methodology we have developed through our experience as Internet consultants in the eTourism sector.

They are calculated using a grid analyzing different criteria separated into 5 categories for each of the sites studied.

A mark out of 10 is awarded in each category. The average marks of the 5 categories of criteria are then calculated to obtain a general classification of the sites.

The classification is carried out in total independence, and is intended to be a tool to help both individuals and Net professionals study and monitor Internet sites.

eIndices aim, above all, to assess the intrinsic quality of the sites and the value they provide visitors with in terms of experience and satisfaction.

We do not analyze whether the products offered on the sites are good value for money, as we consider that comparing the prices of, say, a charter flight with a normal flight or a three star hotel in one hotel chain with a four star hotel in another, is outside our field of expertise and is best left to guides and specialised revues.

Ease of browsing, site design

In this category we look at the overall quality and coherence of the site's design. Here we are mainly concerned with the general impression the user has when he is browsing on the site.

For example, we examine the quality of the home page (whether the site's key points are represented on the home page or not), and the general ease of navigating the site: clearness and coherence of titles, uniformity throughout the site, whether there are pages allowing the user to quit the site, situation of the page visited, structure, site map, whether the same colour palette is used throughout the site, overall quality of design, etc.

We also analyze technical factors such as the size of files, speed of servers, and whether there are any broken links or other defects.

Other factors included in this section of the analysis are: the number of different browsers the HTML structure is compatible with, the size of the screen displays, frames, whether any plug-ins are needed or not, and how appropriate the animations, sounds and videos are.

    Relational quality, customer loyalty  


In this category we assess the relational quality of the sites: number of items, customization, quality of email messages, chat facilities, type and number of phone numbers (special numbers, web call centre, etc.).

The availability of online help features such as a FAQ page, FAQ search engine, glossary, etc., is also taken into account here.

The capacity for gaining customer loyalty through newsletters announcing special offers or giving advice or guides is also examined in this category.

We also analyze the quality of the site's newsletters: how clear their message is, whether the user can choose how often they are sent and whether this rate is respected, whether they are tailored according to destinations or products and how easy it is to subscribe and unsubscribe.

    Bookings, security, customization, front office  
In this category we investigate the quality of the online booking system, customization (one to one), commitment to respecting users' privacy, the quality of forms, efforts made to ensure that data sent by users is secure, and all the processes connected to the front office (bugs and technical problems).

We look at the quality of the reservation system, whether or not it is fully integrated to the site, the number of clicks needed to order, the time it takes to place an order, whether bookings can be made in real time or not, and whether, throughout these processes, every effort is made to ensure that users' data is secure.

The quality of the search engines (speed of response, quality and appropriateness of responses, etc.) is also analyzed.

Customization facilities during navigation or when placing an order are also assessed, as well as the means used to ensure that the information given by the user in this context remains secure. Higher marks are given to sites whose functions are truly structured around customers' needs.

In addition, when users give information, or start up an order process, they should be clearly informed about their rights in the case of a dispute. Similarly, the cyber-retailer should state his own commitments in relation to issues such as data communicated and its security. This is a "sensitive" area for users, many of whom are still reluctant to order online, and is therefore one of the factors we assess.

Since all sites offer a large number of forms, we study how easy they are to fill in, whether there are any incoherent factors, whether any of the fields are already filled in and, if so, how appropriate the information is, and whether any mistakes that users are liable to make at this point can be corrected.

    Online positioning, coherence and image, enhancement
of brand awareness, online/offline synergy, popularity


Here we look at how well the companies whose sites are studied are positioned on the Internet.

Their positioning is analyzed. from different angles, such as the appropriateness and quality of partnerships, whether there is a policy of special Internet prices or not and whether there is any segmentation of customers on the site.

We also look at the strength and presence of the company's brand image throughout the site and how well this is enhanced.

In addition, we assess to what extent the site is open to other countries by looking, for example, at which languages are available and whether prices are converted into the various potential currencies.

Since any online presence needs to be coordinated with the offline distribution network for a site to work efficiently, we look at how company strategies are integrated online and offline to find out whether there is a real synergy between the two.

We also analyze whether the marketing language is clear and coherent throughout the site.

The quality of the domain name, how it relates to the company's brand name, and the site's title are also included in this category.

Finally, however good a site is, if it is not highly visible, it will not stand much chance of attracting new customers. We therefore look at how the site is referenced, the number of search motors it uses, the number of links to the site there are, and the quality and number of responses obtained by the search engines.

    Site content and extent of product offer  
In this category we look first of all the general contents of the site: how attractive it is and whether its style is clear and easy to understand, etc.

We also analyze the online presentation of the company's core business and the products related to it.

We look at how well the products are presented, how many are shown and which products are chosen.

Apart from the actual products, and factors concerning the site's content, we also check the quality and extensiveness of the guides and advice offered on the site and whether they are fully integrated.

Other items analyzed. are sports activities, cultural events, usual climate, current weather conditions, customs of countries to be visited (languages, currencies, etc.), and whether users can ask experts questions on the site, etc.


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eTourism Newsletter Web Site Editor: Luc Carton