Discourse on Corporate Websites at the Beginning of the 21 st Century in Czech Environment – Research Methodology

Discourse on Corporate Websites at the Beginning of the 21 st Century in Czech Environment – Research Methodology

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  Discourse on Corporate Websites at the Beginning of the 21 st Century in Czech Environment – Research Methodoogy Keywords:Web pages, websites, discourse, persuasion, marketing communication, online media, meanings,discourse analysis, pragmatics 1! Website Discourse Discursive analysis views language as a form of social practice. It therefore presents linguisticanalysis depending on the context of a particular social situation, and takes into account the pluralityof factors affecting the resulting form  choice of linguistic tools during text creation. In addition to thecurrent linguistic context of the communication, it also takes into account extra!linguistic elements,such as anticipated text creation conditions, anticipated intentions of the producer, and effects of reader  user reception and interpretation. During the analysis itself, it concentrates on the meaning of linguistic tools, character of the communication sub"ects identity, various manifestations of thesub"ects and ob"ects in the specific communication and social environment, methods of argumentation, meanings and ideology # all of which manifest and shape themselves via the particularcommunication. $ne of the specific areas is marketing communication on corporate websites, whichforms the focal point of this paper. It is possible to assume that in this case, the discourse also represents a narrow perspective of the world view by denying the meaning of certain phenomena %&ills, '(()*, or, on the contrary, byattributing a meaning of their own to them. +lso, in any discourse, a certain power of domination isapplied %not necessarily in the ideological and radical sense, but in the sense of specificity  , uniueness,exceptionalness, otherness, non!inclusion, and separability* with respect to other discourses.Websites are part of the Internet media environment, and are intended for both the generalpublic and narrower target audiences. It is therefore possible to assume on one hand, the existence of a discourse common to the general form of such marketing communication, but on the other hand,also the existence of a discourse representing more distinctively defined social practices and socialgroups. -ike any discourse, the discourse of marketing communication is limited by both externalconditions and specific social relationships in a particular society, as well as by a deliberatelypreferred  supported formation of an image of the world and oneself %at both personal andinstitutional levels*. In both cases, assumptions enter into this relationship %airclough, '((/, p. 01, andelsewhere*, with which society and individuals are 2working2 during text creation. 3he analyst4s "ob isthen to reveal these assumptions on which the individual linguistic stylisations are based, as well as toreveal the influence of subseuent communication behaviour on a particular social practice, societyand the individual.In this case we speak of an institutional discourse, i.e. a discourse presupposing a certainfunctioning of mutual relations, in which the symmetry or asymmetry of such relations, the definitionof the contradiction of 2us2 and 2them2 represents the basic differentiation. It is uite obvious thatcorporate websites, as part of society, represent its shape and shapes of entities in a specific way,defined by the system of contemporary society, while on the other hand, they can base their discourseon their detachment from such shape, as well as on detachment from normally presumed social roles.During the websites5 implementation, several factors step to the forefront, such as the company4sprivate intentions, which can ultimately formally deny the institutional nature of the discourse6 theaccepted values of the company and associated certain  fixed meanings %for example proposals bymany private companies orienting themselves towards goods for teenagers, or by companies workingwith specific groups of customers, etc.*  3he aim of website texts analysis is thus to analyse their specific content6 the linguistic toolsand means of expression, dependent on their social context, which both construct a certain idea  of thecompanies about their position in society and the marketplace, about their relation to recipients of website texts, to sharing a common context and common experience. It is necessary to follow thestrategies and choice of means of communication which companies and institutions choose to achievethe elementary goal of marketing communication # not only to inform, but above all, to persuade, tosell goods, services or ideas. 2! Website" #he Centrepiece of $nine Mar%eting +lthough the most important part of this research is the stylistic and discursive perspective of the researched websites, initial study of the selected material showed that it is not possible to ignoretheoretical and practical aspects of marketing communication. Interdependence of technological andsoftware background, and possibilities of optimising a site or its functions and goals, as well as thesegment of presented products or services significantly influence the language, colour or interactivityof a website.Websites which the firm  company %for terminology, see below* uses to present itself to thepublic represent one of the official, institutional communication forms and fulfil, in particular, theappellative function 7 , depending on the type of society, i.e. targeted at the addressee and focused oninfluencing them. In this context, we also speak more specifically about the persuasive function # thesite is trying to persuade the addressee to choose this particular company # because each corporatewebsite can be understood as a particular type of advertising. + company that currently has no form of promotion on the internet # whether it be a website or a social networking site # has little chance of succeeding in competition with others, and from a marketing point of view, 2Internet invisibility2 is aserious mistake. 3he potential client starts to search for the particular service or product he needsdirectly in the Internet environment %for search motifs and features of the WWW pages, see below*.3he dominant persuasive function is, of course, supplemented by the informative function %therecipient obtains information about the company*, seductive function %to raise interest in the firm byinducing expressive features6 on seduction, see e.g. 8anovec, '((), '((0*. or the specific means whichthese communiues use to fulfil their functions, see below.rom the point of view of marketing classification, websites are one of the tools of marketingstrategies of companies, organisations, institutions or individuals, and they fall into the sphere of Internet marketing communication %usually refers to a 9 area* or online marketing communication%more broadly related also to mobile phones, etc.*. 3hey represent a certain 2virtual institution2 underone of the current trends of the digital revolution to translate %not only* marketing communicationmore and more into online space6 we also refer to them as part of e!commerce or e!marketing%&ihal;kov<, '((=*. >owever, they can be considered in themselves as company advertising %e.g.?himp, '(7(, p. /1=*. 3heir benefits include, inter alia, interactive engagement of communicationparticipants, multimedia communication capabilities and global geographic coverage, instantaccessibility and %in the vast ma"ority of cases* free usage. rom the point of view of the creator, it ise.g. the possibility of detailed feedback %the number of views, clicks, visitors, the length of connectionetc.*, fast updates or changes, etc. WWW pages are considered as a 2basic condition2 and the basicform of all activities belonging to electronic marketing %e.g. 8anouch, '(77, p. 01*. 2  2Web sites can beconsidered the centrepiece of companies@ online advertising efforts, with other advertising formats%e.g. banners, e!mail, and paid searches* simply serving to drive traffic to their web sites. >ence, web 1  3here is no clear point of view in terminology regarding the division of communications  communications. A.g. B. Cyb;ralpoints out that the theory of communication is inspired by the work of K. Ehler, who distinguishes between expressive,appellative and referential functions %cf. Cyb;ral, '((1, p. /'*. F. -eech defines informative, expressive, directive, aesthetic andphatic functions, while he understands directive function in the broadest sense as a situation where 2we try to influence thebehaviour or attitudes of others2 %-eech, 71=), pp. )(!)7*, therefore, the function includes persuasion.  sites are key to successfully integrated online advertising programs.2 %?hrimp, '(7(, p. /1=6 ?hrimp,raig +ndrews, '(7/, pp. /G'!/*. Website functions are diverse: they serve as a 2business card2, theyprovide the companies@ media presentation, and along with the other mentioned environments, theyform their so!called online reputation. 3hey participate in branding, provide customers andstakeholders with information about products or activities, allow the companies to publish onlineadvertising or sell products and services, they provide support or services, and, last but not least, theyenable acuiring information on customer preferences or interests %8anouch, '(77*. 3hey provideactive two!way communication between organisations and customers6 they are supposed to meetindividual customer needs and create long!lasting ties between them. Hsers motives /  for searching forinformation through websites are e.g. identifying who offers particular services or goods, convenienceof choice and search %multiplied by the opportunity to ask the company by e!mail or using a webformthat is a part of the site*, the possibility to compare prices, to find and compare products or selectfinancially the most advantageous service or product %heureka.c , Jobeeto .c *, survey of the region and the nearest client area, the possibility to use specialised search engines focused directly on acertain range of services %e.g. ne"remeslnici.c , favi.c   , l iftago.com, uber.c, trivago.c, airnb.c   , etc.*,recommendation from friends %FEmE, >.! al, C., '(7G*, as well as following fashion trends, andothers.?ome generally accepted recommendations have been established for the website designduring their development. +fter analysing the target group, it is necessary to define the primary goalsand functions of the website with respect to the segment that the product or service represents in themarket, to analyse the target group of the site, to ensure architectural and programme solutions, andsubseuent updating of the site. In any case, websites should be accessible )  to users, easily trackable,euipped with an appropriate HJ-, uickly usable and generally user!friendly, clear and attractive%rankings, 2top 7(2, etc., polls and surveys, news and articles are usually regarded as attractive, whereas+L and the presence of a logo, slogan and  or theme are regarded as practical. It is recommendedthat the opening page not be 2empty2 with the 2Anter2 link6 pop!up windows are regarded asdisturbing and disrespectable6 website entry should not be conditional upon registration. or furtherrecommendations, e.g. 8anouch, '(77*  0 .3he user should clearly understand the purpose of the site %8anouch, '(77*, the web should contain thesearch function, font and background should have appropriate colours. G  It should contain relevant, up!to!date and trustworthy information %including phone contact, company address, company activitydescription, uality certificates, regular business reports, purchase security systems, protection of personal data statement6 8anouch, '(77*, it should be well!arranged and legible # illegibility seems tobe a relatively widespread issue, whether regarding the used font types or background colours = . Ingeneral, sites should be rather simple in terms of graphics and composition for easier orientation, withfewer animations and colours, as many different elements divert attention and complicate orientation M or even discourage further reading. + moderate number of multimedia elements also ensures faster 2   3he specific division of the online marketing communication mix takes different forms %e.g. ?himp, '(7(6 haffey, Allis!hadwick, '(7G6 &ihal;kov<, '((=*: besides websites, also e!shops, blogs, social networks, chat rooms, etc. fall into the category.3he individual tools used in these environments include 99 or 99+ ads, shopping incentives, loyalty programs, online events,news, viral marketing and advergaming %as part of 9J activities*, mailing, online chatting, CoI9 telephone systems, webinars etc.   3  Hsers should seek out websites in a goal!oriented fashion %e.g., to learn more about a company or brand, to play a game, or toregister for a contest*. %?himp, '(7(, p. /1=*. 4   3he term NaccessibleO has a specific meaning here # it describes accessibility to disabled users, see e.g.:   http:www.mvcr.cclanekpristupny!web!a!"ak!se!vyvarovat!chyb.aspx*. 5  f. the recommendations of a world!known expert 8. Pielsen, www.useit.com. 6  A.g. calmer background colours such as green or blue are considerably more suitable than red or yellow, and they affect thespeed and the correct comprehension of the text6 a blue font is automatically associated with the colour of a link or HJ-6 ?himp,'(77. 7  &orrison, &. Hsability 9roblems 9lague !to! ?ites. BtoB´s Interactive Marketing Guide , '((=, 7(.  page loading. >a"saleh %'((=* places among features of successful sites a strong and individual benefitfrom the site for the customer, as well as its srcinality and inimitability. 3he fact that the site is welldesigned and fulfils its intended purpose, is well reflected in the so!called &ost Desired +ction %&D+*,that is, in the desirable action of a visitor to the site: if the company primarily seeks online sales, it issuccessful if they reach a high number of conversions, in this case the purchases made after accessingthe site. 1   &! Description of the state'of'art oth foreign and ech literature is devoted to research on websites, but the focus is mainly%only* on the form  character of their marketing presentation. >owever, summary publications of pragmatic!linguistic character are still missing. 7( In general, professional and popularising publications can be divided into perception! andproduction!oriented. 9erception!oriented publications focus on research regarding the success of marketing strategies, the effect on the recipient, attitudes, and the recipient4s behaviour in response tothe site, while production!oriented publications represent analytical!synthetic works which, amongother things, advise companies on how to use the internet environment for promotion. haffey andAllis!hadwick %'(7G* focus on each category of web presentation in detail. 77  Kruga %'((G*, whofocuses on outlined website design and its effectiveness in terms of the transfer of visual information,is a fundamental starting point for our research. $ne of publications %an#3sai, '(7(* also focuses onanalysing the success of websites in terms of their design. In terms of websites5 vocabulary, thetransformation of thinking about the company, resp. about the brand is described in 3eodorescu%'(7)*, who tries to identify and describe the formulas by which people shape the idea of brands, or8eon and 8eong %8eon#8eong, '(7G* who research the uality of websites using examples of accommodation companies5 websites. Wells, Calacich, and >ess %'(77* present in their text theinfluence of design on customers4 behaviour. 3he authors try to identify whether the uality of theproduct and the uality of the website on which the product is offered are linked in the minds of thecustomer. +mong further ech publications, we also mention &arketing na Internetu %&arketing onthe Internet6 ?tuchl;k, DvoQ<Rek, '(((*, which deals with the issue of advertising in the internetenvironment. +lthough the publication ranks among older titles, it is valuable for our research both asa historical source %how the internet was viewed more than fifteen years ago* and as a referencesource of basic research results.irm  company websites offer research potential as communiues with heavily representedverbal and non!verbal components, both of which have a ma"or impact on acceptance by recipients%clients* and on overall communication effect. In terms of linguistics, Sebesta %711(* and Tme"rkov<%'(((* are among the pioneering works in the ech %and ?lovak* environment, while the work of >olanov< %formerly Tapkov<, '(7/* is one of the newer ones to be listed. It is also worth mentioningthe works published in monographs Caria, created during ?lovak conferences of young linguists suchas 8avorsk< %711=*, >a"nU %7111*, Drugdov< %'(7(*, -al;k %'(7)*, Tapkov< %'((G, '((1*. 3heattractiveness and non!conclusion of the sub"ect is reflected by an increasing number of bachelor, 8  ?tevenson, 8., Fordon ., ., Kumar, +. Webpage backround and Ciewers +ttitudes.  Journal of Advertising Research , '(((, )(, '1#/). 9  We will deal with the interface and the technological background only if their interpretation is relevant for the interpretation of marketing strategies and the means of communication used, their uantity, forms and means of convincing, which we will focuson in our research in particular. 10  +nalyses of individual sites are relatively numerous, specifically of the sites with the same focus or targeted segment.>owever, these are mainly student!level texts at the level of ualification papers, see below. 11  3hese authors also mention so!called persuasion marketing, the procedures of which will also be verified in our research. 2Hsing design elements such as layout, copying and typography together with promotional messages to encourage site users to follow specific paths and specifics actions rather than giving them complete choice in their navigation. 2 %haffey, Allis!hadwick,'(7G, p. /=0*  diploma, rigorous and dissertation papers dedicated to the language of advertising and its variousaspects.3he discoursive nature of the research will be based on the elementary publications focused on thelinguistics of the discourse %>offmannov<, 711=, Tme"rkov<, '(((, ?chneiderov<, '(70, >irschov<#?vobodov<, '(7) and others, cf. e.g. summary work on ech research on discourse 8anovec, '(7G*, onthe history of the term VdiscourseN see, for example, Hhvanova!Smygova %XYZ[\YZ!]^_`\YZ, '(7G*or PovU encyklopedickU slovn;k Retiny %Pew Ancyclopaedic ech Dictionary '(7=*6 for linguisticanalysis of discourse cf. also haraudeau#&aingueneau, '(('*. 3hese publications represent aninspirational, theoretical, comparative and terminological basis for our research, but also partlymethodological basis, especially in the case of very vague and empirically difficult graspable termssuch as 2uality %of websites*2. Methodoogy( Difficuties and $pportunities a!)reiminary *reas of Research +uestions What are typical features of current web communication in the ech environment Does this areaof communication testify about general  advertising communication Does it correspond to elementsof advertising style or does it stand out Which stylistic and pragmatic factors are typical for it >owdoes it speak about trends in marketing communication Which typical discoursive elements orideologies does it bear %e.g. ech aspects vs. world aspects, motives of uality, modernity etc.* >oware the positive  traditional values of a %modern* company and their identification with the idea, the2philosophy2 of the company presented Is it possible to identify an individual dictionary or is there a2universal dictionary2 Is there an appeal to the author4s discourse, e.g. scientific language and why  why not +re assumptions about uniueness, otherness of society somehow being constructed Whatare the assumptions %consumer world, appeal to nature, sustainability, etc.* Is there an atmosphere of trust  respectability  credibility, and how is it created Is discourse shaped as undeniable >ow doentities talk of themselves %view of conversational analysis* Do the site4s communication habits varyacross segments >ow are they related to the community!wide public agenda What is therelationship between text and image within the website, and what does this fact show >ow dolinguistic creativity and "okes apply in them +re they following a certain aesthetic >ow theintertextuality and interdiscursivity apply in them b! Methodoogica )robems While studying similar topics, the greatest difficulty is, without exaggeration, the constantchange of material: websites, as well as other types of communication within network media, offerinteractivity and hypermediality, and can be updated, improved or amended from one day to another.3hey also have, by their very nature, rich intertextuality and interdiscursitivity, as well as 2hyperlinkage2,the typical features of which are the so!called hyperlinks to the web. %cf. e.g. >fflerov<, '(7/* 3hesecan link internal references %within the same website* and external ones %links to another site*. ?uchtext interaction and the various allusions about form and content represent extremely interestingmaterial. &anovich %'((7* calls these properties %besides others* the principle of modularity %theindividual modules can be moved* and the principle of variability %they can be varied at will*. 3he otherside of these features is represented by non!linearity, fragility, and instability of websites, which causestheir certain fluidity, incapturability %cf. auman, '(('*, and often imply the impossibility of focused,continuous reading %cf. e.g. arr, ?piter*. 3herefore, it should be borne in mind that synchronous study
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