Academic journal article International Journal of Electronic Commerce Studies

The Effect of Website Quality Features and Cognitive Absorption on Social Network Site Usage: A Cross-National Study

Academic journal article International Journal of Electronic Commerce Studies

The Effect of Website Quality Features and Cognitive Absorption on Social Network Site Usage: A Cross-National Study

Article excerpt

1.INTRODUCTION

Social network sites (SNSs), such as MySpace, Twitter, and Facebook, have attracted millions of users since their introduction. Boyd and Ellison1, 2 defined SNSs as web-based services that allow people to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) generate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and navigate their list of connections and connections made by others within the system. SNSs are structured primarily by personal or egocentric networks rather than by interests in early public online communities3. These social networks are driven mostly by pre-existing groups of friends. People join the sites with their friends to share cultural artifacts and ideas and communicate with each other4. SNSs also allow users to comment on their friends' profiles. Profiles, friend lists, and public comments are three key features of SNSs2, 5.

Undeniably, SNSs popularity has grown. SNSs offer the means to make either business (e.g., LinkedIn) or social connections (e.g., MySpace, Orkut, and Facebook). SNSs provide distinguishing features to cater to diverse users by incorporating new information technology (IT) communication tools, such as mobile, blogging, and photo or video-sharing services6. In addition to these new technologies, users are also informed about what their friends are doing and thinking, easily replying to their opinions and advice, controlling what others can see and know about them, and tailoring the platform with extensions and applications. Users can change their preferences if an SNS does not meet their requirements1. Therefore, it is essential to examine customer perceptions of SNSs and understand the antecedents of SNSs usage7. These perceptions may be used to effectively manage SNSs8.

Sledgianowski and Kulviwat9 used the Social Network Site Adoption model to predict SNS usage and behavioral intention (BI) through examining users' perceptions of playfulness, critical mass, normative pressure, trust, usefulness, and ease of use. They also suggested that the factors that contribute to increasing web performance, such as content, customization, and security, should be explored and confirmed in the future. DeLone and McLean10 developed the updated DeLone and McLean (D&M) model, which proposes that system quality, information quality, and service quality (referred to as website quality features in this study) affect both information system (IS) user satisfaction and BI. Lin11 and Lin12 stated that three online quality factors (information quality, system quality, and service quality) are critical determinants of perceived usefulness (PU) and two online quality factors (system quality and service quality) have a strong effect on the perceived ease of use (PEOU) of the virtual community. Furthermore, Petter, DeLone, and McLean13 suggested that website quality features may be relevant or should be measured differently if they are applied to social networking or other types of IS that are used for enjoyment. Based on these references, this study considered website quality features to increase our understanding of SNSs.

Although users search websites for specific information, they also want to surf them for entertainment purposes and even to socialize14. Flow is a subjective human and computer-mediated interaction experience, representing a user's perception of his or her interaction with a site either as playful and exploratory15, 16. This study adopted Agarwal and Karahanna17 concept of cognitive absorption (CA) to represent flow experience and serve as an important antecedent of two essential beliefs, PU and PEOU, which are relevant to technology use and SNSs to discover specific determinants of CA that are essential to user perceptions. Huang18 felt that the web attributes of a website, such as complexity, novelty, and interactivity, could be used to enhance online enjoyment. However, few studies have applied the comprehensive view to explain the relationship between website characteristics and flow experience14, 19. …

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