Title & Author
Website Experience Analysis: A New Research Protocol for Studying Relationship Building on Corporate Websites by Mihaela Vorvoreanu
Purpose of the research
If we think about the paradigm of the design again, there is an engineering and usability. Engineering means the product is working and usability means it is easy to use. But is that all? No. There is an UX which means the overal experience like pleasant to use. If we think the purpose of the website is relationship building with the public, it goes beyond usability. This paper proposes a process, web experience analysis to analyze this. For example, if one website wants to sell something to the public, it should build a relationship with the potential customer so that the company is trustable and the product usage will be interesting or pleasant. Previous methods only focused on the usability of the website, but in this case usability alone is not sufficient to persuade the customer. So the author proposes a new research protocol to measure what element of the website contributes to the relationship building. Also previous methods try to analyze the contents of website itself, but it is the process of interacting with websites that builds relationship.
WEA tries to find the dimensions of the communications involved. For this paper, five dimensions which is trust, commitment, involvement, dialogue and openness. According to the these dimension, survey questionnaire was constructed. For example of trust, the following 2 question is asked to the participant after they review the site.
- Do you feel you can trust this organization?
- What on this website makes you feel this way?
They selected 9 corporate website according to the size. So there is large company, medium company and small company. The selection according to the size was done to ensure that the familiarity with the company name will not interfere with the each judgement. 6 participant was selected for each corporate websites. The number 6 is derived from the Nielsen’s suggestion that almost all of usability issue can be found with the testing of 5 users. They used a homogenous group of students who attended a class together. This characteristic of the participant assures that the participants belongs to the same interpretative community. The analysis focuses on the answer about which aspect of the sites influence the participants’ judgement about each relationship building dimension.
According to the WEA analysis, we can find which element of the website can contribute to the each of five relationship dimension. The main findings from the research was summarized below.
Trust: information about the organization’s history, background and value, visual characteristic like white background, quantity of the information
Commitment: consumer orientation, maintaining only business relationship with its public, contact information
Investment: donation to charities, the very nature of an organization’s activity, graphics and pictures
Openness: detailed information about the business, quantity of the information, the availability of contact information
Dialogue: the availability of the contact information
But more important than the findings about specific value, the paper proposes a new research protocol, which is beyond a specific research example. So the conclusion is that we can and should measure which element of website affect the relationship building process.
I think human relies on as much as emotional experience as logical analysis. For example, if I have to decide which graduate school to attend, I will rely not only the logical analysis but emotional impact of the website. So in this perspective, I think this experience-centered analysis proposes a meaningful direction for the website or product analysis.
However, in my opinion, the choice of the dimension seems a little arbitrary. For example, the difference between the dialogue and openness is not clear to me. Also the dimensions can be different according to the goal of the website. For example, the websites for the information delivery and persuasion will appeal to the different aspects of communication dimension.
And as the author points out, “the potential risk of an interpretive, experience-centered perspective are endless relativism and subjectivism”. The author argues however there are interpretive communities who share a set of interpretive strategies. The concept of clustered people is what I am personally pursuing. In my opinion, I would like to investigate how different communities perceives or experiences the same website elements. For example, if use 3 websites and 3 different groups of 6 people can show this aspect.
Finally one participant’s comment made me think about the more holistic approach to the relationship building process.
“Well I would have to know more about the organizations. The appearance of a website can be deceiving. I would have to research the organization more to determine if I could trust them.”
As we are learning the online identity management, the same can be applied here. Nowadays a website is not alone. If I would like to know about a company, I will google the company. When there is many negative contents associated with a company, then no matter how the company website try to give the trust, it would fail.
I would like to add Web Experience Analysis protocol to the user testing of previous CGT website. The reason is that the decision to select graduate school is important and maybe feeling like emotional attachment can play important role in the process. Due to the lack of the resources, we will have to choose most important dimension in using CGT website in the intention of graduate school selection. It can be an trust or fun. Our team will have to identify the key dimension to ask.
One minor detail I learned is that I have to delete cookies and temporary internet files. The reason is that it can affect the loading speed or browsing experience. We can apply that instruction in our usability testing.