RAA-1 Can Interface Usability Influence Trust of Web Retailers?

Source: Roy, M., Dewit, O., Aubert, B. (2001). The impact of interface usability on trust in web retailers. Internet research: Electronic networking Applications and Policy, 11(5), 388-398Retrieved from http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?articleid=863729&show=html


Purpose: Many studies have argued that interface design and usability can have a significant influence on a user’s attitude and trust of a website. The objective of this paper was “to present a study that tested the relationship between the quality or usability of the interface design and the level of trust of potential customers.”[Roy, M., Dewit, O., Aubert, B. 2001]

Methods: A questionnaire was used to gather information from the 66 participants based on the evaluation of site usability and trust. The questionnaire was sectioned into two parts:

  1. The first part gathered information about participants demographics and their previous experience with the internet
  2. The second part contained 46 questions, which was used for evaluating the websites’ usability. Twenty nine of these questions were borrowed from the index of usability, which was developed and validated by Lin et al.(1997) while the remaining 17 questions were borrowed from a questionnaire used by Mayer et al. (1995)

Using nine unfamiliar bookstore websites, the participants were asked to perform three tasks:

  • find a predefined book
  • find a book of their choice
  •  simulate the order process

Following this step the participants were asked to complete the second part of the questionnaire related to usability and trust.

Main Finding: The results show that four out five usability factors significantly influenced the user’s confidence in an ecommerce website. These factors included: ease of the site’s navigation, ease of learning, perception and support. Based on these findings, site consistency did not seem to have much of an effect on the user’s level of trust.

Analysis: The findings in this paper only seem to reinforce what we already know about the importance of usability in a user interface. The success or failure of any website or software product has a direct correlation to its usability. Two of the websites omitted from this research were Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Their exclusion was not due to their lack of usability, but because they had already established that’s sense of trust in users due to their great interface usability. A good knowledge of usability in respect to consumer trust is indispensable to anyone aspiring to undertake an online business.

Although this paper was successful in establishing the correlation between interface usability and trust it was limited due to the fact that the participants only simulated the order process. I believe that the results may have been different if participant were to use their credit cards to make an actual purchase.


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