Discipline: Computer Sciences and Information Management
Subcategory: Computer Science & Information Systems
Jasmine DeHart - Philander Smith College
Co-Author(s): Joel Kabulo, Shalom Kashama, Trishawna Kelly, Antwane Lewis, Mnsa Maat and Michel Ngoga, Philander Smith College, Little Rock, AR
The tremendous growing body of e-commerce websites issues is compelling web designers to think for quality and usability of their websites. E-commerce websites are expected to be designed to fit the objective of the intended users. Usability is defined as “the effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction with which specified users can achieve specified goals in particular environments”. Previous studies highlighted some of the challenges faced by users in browsing websites. In this study, we test the application of usability heuristics usability to identify problems in e-commerce websites. The purpose of this research is explore the applications of usability heuristics to test usability of e-commerce websites. If the usability heuristics proved to be an effective evaluation system, then it could be used on various ecommerce websites. It is imperative to have a solid and valid framework to determine effective heuristics usability testing. Therefore, we hypothesis, that usability heuristics would fit evaluating the usability of e-commerce websites. In our study, we built on heuristics usability rules of software (Nielsen, 1994) to test e-commerce websites. Total of six evaluators formed two groups to apply heuristics usability to inspect Kohl’s and Macy’s websites. After gathering an understanding of the heuristics, we generated a list of measures to represent each of the heuristics rules. Then, identified compliance items and improvements that could be made which corresponds with the given heuristics. By testing usability with the developed rules and measures, we found a number of usability issues that would affect positive user experience. For example, Kohl’s has multi page processing for check-out but does not prompt user to delete items from the cart. Also, we found that users would find difficulty in locating the online help mechanism for Kohl’s website. After identify usability issues, evaluators rated the severity on scale of four, where zero indicates “no problem” and four indicates Usability catastrophe – imperative to fix”. Research work suggests usability heuristics can be used as a solid framework for evaluating e-commerce websites. The developed toolkit of rules and measures can assist website designers and developers to engineer usable website that would support user’s goals. In the future we hope to conclude the heuristics analysis on various websites and get a user perspective on the website according to those heuristics.
References: Agarwal, R. and Venkatesh, V. (2002), ‘Assessing a Firm’s Web Presence: A Heuristic Evaluation Procedure for the Measurement of Usability’, Information Systems Research, 13 (2), pp. 168-186
Nielsen, J. 1994. Heuristic evaluation. In Nielsen, J. and Mark, R.L. (Eds.). ‘Usability Inspection Methods’, New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): This study was supported, in part, by a grant from NSF/LSAMP.
Faculty Advisor: Samar Swaid, firstname.lastname@example.org
Role: Initially, I researched and learned more about heuristics and their primary use. From there, I worked with a team of two to conduct a heuristic study of Kohl's e-commerce website. Once this analysis was done, all of the evaulators discussed and presented their findings for the overall conclusion.