Functional complexity and Web site design: Evaluating the online presence of UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Menno D.T. de Jong* (Corresponding Author), Yuguang Wu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
142 Downloads (Pure)


Functional complexity is a widespread and underresearched phenomenon in Web sites. This article explores a specific case of functional complexity by analyzing the content of UNESCO World Heritage Web sites, which have to meet demands from both World Heritage and tourism perspectives. Based on a functional analysis, a content checklist was developed and used to evaluate a sample of 30 World Heritage Web sites. The results show that World Heritage Web sites generally fall short in all content categories. A cluster analysis reveals three types of World Heritage Web sites based on their emphasis on World Heritage content versus tourism content: (a) less well-developed Web sites (no emphasis), (b) Web sites of World Heritage Sites with touristic possibilities (emphasis on World Heritage), and (c) Web sites of touristic attractions with outstanding cultural or natural value (emphasis on tourism). In all, the findings show that functional complexity poses serious threats to the exhaustiveness of a Web site’s information and that evaluation approaches based on functional analysis can be useful in detecting blindspots in the content provided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-372
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of business and technical communication
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • functional analysis
  • functional complexity
  • tourism
  • Web site design
  • Web site evaluation
  • World Heritage
  • content strategy


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