Designing toward an emotionally usable e-commerce architecture




Seargeant, Laura K.

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This research investigates the possibility of influencing consumers' emotions when interacting with business to consumer e-commerce systems by modifying architectural elements underlying the visual design. The focus is on three architectural elements that most consumers will experience when interacting with current e-commerce systems. One architectural element is the "shopping cart" metaphor. Another is the use of labels as interaction mechanisms. The third is the "checkout process" as the means of completing a transaction. The impact of the architectural elements is perhaps more profound than visual design factors because the emotions evoked by visual design can be greatly influenced by gender, culture and age. In other words, what may be a trustworthy color to an American consumer may not be a trustworthy color to a Korean consumer. Four empirical studies were conducted in the domain of business to consumer ecommerce systems. The subjects were multi-cultural, professionals and students, novices and experts, ranging in age from late teens to late 50's and either current or potential customers of ecommerce systems. The first study sought to determine the emotional factors relating to business to consumer e-commerce systems. These factors were used to create a self-report questionnaire consisting of 40 bi-polar emotive differential scales representing the primary emotions experienced when interacting with e-commerce systems. These primary emotions can be classified as: trustworthiness, simplicity, frustration, usefulness, enjoyability, appeal and informativeness. The second study focused on finding the most explicit set of labels to assist users in completing typical tasks when interacting with an e-commerce system. The third study focused on determining user preferences for persistent shopping carts, those accessible to the user on every page of an e-commerce system, and non-persistent shopping carts. The final study was a 2x2x2 factorial design tested between subjects. This study was comprised of 8 prototypes - visually alike, but architecturally composed of "good" and "bad" representations of the shopping cart, labels, and checkout process. The results from the first study were used to determine which of the prototypes provided the most emotionally usable experience. The results of Study 4 indicate that it is possible to manipulate the architectural elements of the e-commerce system in order to influence a target emotion, such as trustworthiness. The paper concludes by discussing the results as implications for further study.



electronic commerce, web sites, human-computer interaction, consumer attitudes, e-commerce


Seargeant, L. K. (2000). Designing toward an emotionally usable e-commerce architecture (Unpublished thesis). Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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