Purpose - The paper has two objectives. First, it seeks to present a procedure for exploring web site development using the Internet archive (www.archive.org). Second, it aims to test the assumption that over time a progression in web site numbers and interactivity is visible within an industry sector. Design/methodology/approach - The Internet archive was used to view web site activity from 1998-2004 for 21 randomly selected organisations generating a final sample of 106 web sites. Content analysis was used to gather information on web site numbers and functionality. Web sites were evaluated using existing models of web site evolution adapted for the financial services sector. Findings - This paper produces meaningful data on patterns of web site development. Results indicate that UK pension provider web sites have increased in sophistication but remain underdeveloped. Research limitations/implications - In this paper there is no qualitative web site assessment and thus no information on web site quality. This method is recommended as a starting point for a wider enquiry due to the incompleteness of some archived records. Practical implications - The paper shows that for practitioners, a methodology for mapping the configuration and evolution of sector web sites will assist in developing Internet marketing strategy. For academics, awareness of web site evolution patterns will inform Internet research. For the pension sector this identification of unrealised cost-efficiencies from developing online payment and processing functionality highlights a competitive opportunity. Originality/value - Considerable commentary exists on paths of Internet development but there is little longitudinal research into patterns of web site change, this research addresses this gap. This paper is a novel approach to web site metrics that allows both practitioners and academics to trace changes in the Internet landscape. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
- Financial services