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ECommerce - http/www.acm.org/crossroads/xrds7-1/ecuser.html...

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http://www.acm.org/crossroads/xrds7-1/ecuser.html The ACM Student Magazine ACM / Crossroads / Xrds7-1 / Designing an E-commerce Site for Users Designing an E-commerce Site for Users by Norbert J. Kubilus Introduction Usability considerations should be of prime importance in the design of an electronic commerce (e-commerce) web site. While the number of e-commerce web sites has increased rapidly over the last three years, the satisfaction of e-commerce users has generally decreased. This gap results from too little attention being paid to human factors that affect whether a web site can be used easily, accurately, and without losing user interest. This paper discusses the role of user interface design in developing e-commerce web sites and provides some guidelines for user interfaces. Attracting the E-commerce User In 1997, the American Management Association surveyed 3,500 of its members on the business use of the Internet and identified three human interface design issues among the top six obstacles to
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increased e-commerce: slow response time, lack of user friendliness, and poor web site design [ 1 ]. Two years later, Anders [ 2 ] reports these are still among the critical success factors for an e-commerce site. The primary factor in determining e-commerce user loyalty, according to Anders, is having a web site that is "user friendly and easy to navigate." The other leading success factors are good previous experience, fast response time, and relevant, frequently updated content. The importance of human interface design in product selection was well established by the mid-1950s when Henry Dreyfuss, a leading industrial designer of his day, made the following observation, "If the point of contact between the product and the people becomes a point of friction, then the industrial designer has failed. If, on the other hand, people are made safer, more comfortable, more eager to purchase, more efficient -- or just plain happier -- the designer has succeeded" [ 3 ]. The prevalence of poor user interfaces is not a new, web specific problem. It has existed since the first interactive computer systems emerged in the 1960s. The application of human factors to solve the problem has existed for nearly as long. Three decades ago, Hansen [ 4 ] defined four human factors principles for designing the computer- human interface: know the user minimize memorization optimize operations engineer for errors.
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In 1980, Shneiderman, a psychologist and computer scientist, added the need for usability testing that "confirms that an interface satisfies the user's requirements for simplicity, naturalness, or ease-of-use" [ 13 ]. Why have human factors seemingly taken a back seat in the design of e-commerce web sites? The answer lies partly in the rapid growth of web-based applications in the last five years, as well as the rush to e- market. One of the challenges with e-commerce web sites is the need to implement them rapidly, before the next competitor can bring up its web site. According to web guru Jakob Nielson, "Usability rules the Web. If the customer can't find a product, then he or she will not buy
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