Academic journal article Journal of Electronic Commerce Research

A Study of Web-Designers' Criteria for Effective Business-to-Consumer (B2c) Websites Using the Repertory Grid Technique

Academic journal article Journal of Electronic Commerce Research

A Study of Web-Designers' Criteria for Effective Business-to-Consumer (B2c) Websites Using the Repertory Grid Technique

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Organizations are increasingly using websites not only to capture but also to build relationships with their desired markets. A clear understanding of how best to design effective B2C websites (for both e-commerce and e-service) is therefore vital. Despite its importance, research into the effectiveness of B2C websites remains highly fragmented and user-centric, ignoring the views of web-designers. This study therefore aims to investigate what web-designers consider as attributes of "effective" B2C websites. The relationships amongst attributes are also explored. Twenty web-designers were interviewed using the Repertory Grid Technique in order to elicit factors that they consider important when designing or developing B2C websites. Using a data reduction approach, the elicited attributes were then classified into 14 meta-categories. These meta-categories were compared to prior research. We found that although several meta-categories have been extensively covered in the literature, little attention have been paid to some meta-categories including 'Establishing Website Identity'; 'Categorization of Information'; 'Presentation of Information'; 'Advertisements, Pop-Ups and Animation"; and "Headlines". The inductive approach also permitted the elicitation of the relationships among these meta-categories, giving us a richer understanding of how different website characteristics influence each other. Implications and future research are discussed.

Keywords: repertory grid technique, websites effectiveness, web-designers

1. Introduction

In recent years, we have witnessed an explosive growth in electronic commerce/service [Cyr et al. 2007] and net-enabled organizations [Straub and Watson 2001]. More firms and start ups are choosing the Web to build brand reputation, to transact with web-users and investors, or for public relations purposes [Subramaniam et al. 2000]. For example, according to Forrester Research [Mulpuru 2008] US online retail reached $175 billion in 2007 and is projected to grow to $335 billion by 2012. An important characteristic of online shopping is that consumers have to base their judgments on product information presented on these websites. As a consequence, website design plays a significant role in affecting consumers. online shopping performance and attitude toward the websites [Palmer 2002]. In particular, the design of websites can influence visitors. decision to purchase and return to the site.

In order to facilitate good web design, there is a need to answer the question: "What factors (constructs) do web-designers consider important when designing effective business-to-consumer (B2C) websites?" In other words, the purposes of this study are to: 1) identify the attributes of effective B2C websites as construed by web-designers, and 2) explore the relationships among these attributes.

This paper focuses on the web-designers. rather than the web-users. perspective. To successfully understand what good web design is about, we argue that there is a need to consider beyond web-users by examining the web-designers. perspective of website effectiveness. Current research on web effectiveness has largely focused on web- users perspectives [Kumar and Benbasat 2006; Webster and Ahuja 2006]. Users. views have been studied more extensively because serving users. needs is the primary objective of websites [Mithas et al. 2006; Venkatesh and Ramesh 2006]. These works tend to emphasize issues relating to the use and usability of the websites rather than directly on the design factors, and hence are limited as they only provide a user-centric view to improving web design. Hence, we argue that the web-designers. perspective is critical in emerging the evaluation criteria to help web-designers in their job.

To date, there is only a handful of studies that have examined the web-designers. perspective [Huizingh 2000; Geissler 2001; Loiacono et al. 2007]. Some published web-designers. …

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