transfer 9(1) » Neue Informations- und Kommunikationstechnologien

Information needs of small and medium-sized enterprises in the EU

An exploratory study

This exploratory study investigates the information needs of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the engineering and architecture sector. Employing questionnaires, think-aloud protocols and guided interviews, the study focuses on the main points of critique and satisfaction with the information provided by the official website of the EU, in comparison to other information sources.

By examining the properties of the website, the search process and the mood alterations of the participants, a list of recommendations for the improvement of the EUROPA server is established through this study.

The findings show that especially the user context and previous attitudes towards the importance of online information, in combination with the specific interaction between user and website, determine frustration or satisfaction of the user. Overall, this interaction was not very satisfying for the majority of users and did usually not produce any immediate results. Participants that established contact via email had more positive expectations of the outcome, although in these cases the final results were merely postponed. The recommendations mainly concern the overall structure of the website and improving the search mechanism.