CCE Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Engineering and Computing


Maxine Cohen

Committee Member

John Bono

Committee Member

Sumitra Mukherjee


E-commerce retail sales continue to experience significant growth in the United States (U.S.) annually. However, the contribution of e-commerce retail sales towards total retail sales in the U.S. remains low. Furthermore, the growth of e-commerce retail sales from year to year as a percentage of total retail sales in the U.S. is also fractional. The lack of online trust by consumers has been cited as a significant barrier to transacting online and a possible cause of this slow-moving trend.

E-commerce retail sales are paramount to the success and profitability of online merchants. It remains critical to understand the underlying determinants of online trust as a precursor to online purchase intention. This study sought to explore the effect of one such determinant namely, website design, on online trust. Using constructs and scales synthesized from the salient literature, the effects of visual design, social-cue design, and content design on online trust were measured and reported. Additionally, the mediating influence of online trust on online purchase intention was investigated. Demographic factors of age and gender were also examined for possible moderating effects of website design on online trust. A conceptual model of the influence of website design on online trust and the influence of online trust on purchase intention in e-commerce retailing environments was also tested.

The study involved scenario-based survey research methodology. Participants were presented with two websites along with a fictitious purchase scenario and post-scenario survey. The survey captured their responses with respect to the design elements of each website, their inclination to trust each website, and their intention to make a purchase from each website. Participants’ age range and gender were also captured in the survey. A total of 502 participants took part in the study.

The results found that each of the components of website design namely, visual design, social-cue design, and content design had a statistically significant effect on online trust. Online trust was also found to mediate the effect of these design factors on purchase intention. Finally, no significant effects of age or gender on website design’s relationship with online trust were found. Subsequently, implications and suggestions for future research are presented.