Usability evaluation framework for e-commerce websites in developing countries
2009-12-11T12:43:34Z (GMT) by
The importance of evaluating the usability of e-commerce websites is well recognised and this area has attracted research attention for more than a decade. Nearly all the studies that evaluated the usability of e-commerce websites employed either user-based (i.e. user testing) or evaluator-based (i.e. heuristic evaluation) usability evaluation methods; but no research has employed softwarebased (i.e. Google Analytics software) in the evaluation of such sites. Furthermore, the studies which employed user testing and/or heuristic evaluation methods in the evaluation of the usability of e-commerce websites did not offer detail about the benefits and drawbacks of these methods with respect to the identification of specific types of usability problems. This research developed a methodological framework for the usability evaluation of e-commerce websites which involved user testing and heuristic evaluation methods together with Google Analytics software. The framework was developed by comparing the benefits and drawbacks of these methods in terms of the specific areas of usability problems that they could or could not identify on ecommerce websites. The framework involves Google Analytics software as a preliminary step to provide a quick, easy and cheap indication of general potential usability problem areas on an e-commerce website and its specific pages. Then, the framework enables evaluators to choose other methods to provide in-depth detail about specific iv problems on the site. For instance, the framework suggests that user testing is good for identifying specific major usability problems related to four areas: navigation, design, the purchasing process and accessibility and customer service, while the heuristic evaluation is good for identifying a large number of specific minor usability problems related to eight areas including: navigation, internal search, the site architecture, the content, the design, accessibility and customer service, inconsistency and missing capabilities. The framework also suggests that the heuristic evaluation is good at identifying major security and privacy problems. The framework was developed based on an extensive evaluation of the effectiveness of the three methods in identifying specific usability problems in three case studies (e-commerce websites) in Jordan. This highlighted the usefulness of the methods and therefore helps e-commerce retailers to determine the usability method that best matches their needs. The framework was tested and the results indicated the usefulness of the suggested framework in raising awareness of usability and usability evaluation methods among e-commerce retailers in Jordan. This will help them address usability in the design of their websites, thus helping them to survive, grow and achieve success.