CEC Theses and Dissertations

Title

User-Interface Design in Online Shopping Environments: The Development of a Product Interaction Model from Interactive Design Elements

Date of Award

2003

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Maxine S. Cohen

Committee Member

Marlyn Kemper Littman

Committee Member

Easwar Nyshadham

Abstract

The growth of the e-commerce industry has been nothing less than remarkable, changing the way people live, the way companies conduct business, and the way software engineers design. However, this environment still faces many challenges before it becomes a mainstay of the economy. One of those challenges is the usability of the ecommerce Web sites. In particular, the virtual characteristics of the Web are incapable of providing consumers physical contact with the products. Web site designers create ways to overcome the physical barrier with the features on their Web sites. These features are guided by the principles and techniques developed by the discipline of Usability Engineering, as well as the studied and proven preferences of online shoppers. This research study developed a model consisting of features and user-interface design principles that promote product interaction, including an index for measuring product interaction. The model was validated through usability evaluations of existing online shopping sites. The results of which showed that online shopping sites with higher levels of product interaction were more successful. However, there was evidence suggesting that online businesses may be able to do more to promote e-commerce. The results of the usability evaluations clearly showed several weak areas in Web design, causing usability problems and lost opportunities. Computer technology, in the form of a Web page, has the ability to simulate the sense of touch and feel of tangible products if used correctly. This research study concluded that Web pages and Web page design have not mastered this craft and still have a long way to go before this environment truly re-creates the atmosphere of a traditional store.

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