Assessing a Firm’s Web Presence: A Heuristic Evaluation Procedure for the Measurement of Usability

Agarwal, R. and Venkatesh, V. “Assessing a Firm’s Web Presence: A Heuristic Evaluation Procedure for the Measurement of Usability,” Information Systems Research (13:2), 2002, 168-186.

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Web site usability is a critical metric for assessing the quality of a firm’s Web presence. A measure of usability must not only provide a global rating for a specific Web site, ideally it should also illuminate specific strengths and weaknesses associated with site design. In this paper, we describe a heuristic evaluation procedure for examining the usability of Web sites. The procedure utilizes a comprehensive set of usability guidelines developed by Microsoft. We present the categories and subcategories comprising these guidelines, and discuss the development of an instrument that operationalizes the measurement of usability. The proposed instrument was tested in a heuristic evaluation study where 1,475 users rated multiple Web sites from four different industry sectors: airlines, online bookstores, automobile manufacturers, and car rental agencies. To enhance the external validity of the study, users were asked to assume the role of a consumer or an investor when assessing usability. Empirical results suggest that the evaluation procedure, the instrument, as well as the usability metric exhibit useful properties. Implications of the .ndings for researchers, for Web site designers, and for heuristic evaluation methods in usability testing are offered.
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