E-commerce web site evaluation : developing a framework and method for the systematic evaluation of e-commerce web sites and using correspondence analysis to represent the results graphically per industry

Van der Merwe, Rian (2001-12)

Thesis (MEng) -- Stellenbosch University, 2001.

Some digitised pages may appear illegible due to the condition of the original hard copy.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The corporate web site is essential to companies who use the Internet for e-commerce purposes. For these companies, the web site is the platform used to communicate with customers and facilitate business transactions. Internet companies will not be able to do business successfully with an ineffective web site, because this implies that the only contact point that the company has with customers is not functioning properly. It is, however, extremely difficult to identify what an effective e-commerce web site constitutes of. A great need therefore exists for a comprehensive and accurate method to evaluate the performance of the web sites of Internet companies, not only individually but also in comparison with the web sites of other companies in the same industry. Managers of Internet companies would certainly like to know how their web sites perform, what they can do to increase their performance, and which web sites in their industry can be used as a benchmark in certain areas. This thesis aims to address these needs by fulfilling three objectives: ► To develop a framework and criteria for the comprehensive evaluation of e-commerce web sites. ► To use this framework and sound statistical reasoning to develop a method that can be used to evaluate e-commerce web sites quantitively, and represent the results graphically per industry. ► To implement this method by developing computer software that enables users to evaluate web sites and plot the results. To accomplish these objectives, the following methodology was followed: ► Review the research done in the field of web site evaluation for both general and e-commerce web sites. ► Review the research on different techniques in the field of Multidimensional Scaling, and identify an appropriate technique for developing two-dimensional plots of web site evaluation data. ► Expand the web site evaluation research and develop a framework and objective criteria for the evaluation of e-commerce web sites, based on solid business principles. ► Develop a method to gather web site evaluation data that is grouped within industries, and to represent the results graphically using an appropriate Multidimensional Scaling technique. ► Implement the method by developing computer software to automate the process. This document describes the course of the methodology in detail. It reports on the e-commerce web site evaluation framework that was developed; Correspondence Analysis as the Multidimensional Scaling technique used to analyse the evaluation data; the development of the e-commerce web site evaluation method; and the software that was developed in Microsoft Visual Basic to implement the evaluation method. All three objectives were fulfilled in this thesis, in spite of some concerns that are also discussed. The evaluation framework and accompanying software can be used to evaluate all aspects of e-commerce web sites, and the output can be used to draw meaningful conclusions about how these sites can be improved.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die korporatiewe webwerf is onontbeerlik vir maatskappye wat die Internet vir e-handel doeleindes gebruik. Die webwerf is vir hierdie maatskappye die platform wat gebruik word om met kliente te kommunikeer en om saketransaksies te fasiliteer. Internetmaatskappye sal nie in staat wees om suksesvol sake te doen as hulle webwerwe oneffekti'ef is nie, omdat dit sal impliseer dat die enigste raakpunt wat die maatskappy met kliente het, nie behoorlik funksioneer nie. Tog is dit moeilik om te identifiseer waaruit 'n effektiewe e-handel webwerf bestaan. Daar is dus 'n groot behoefte aan 'n omvattende en akkurate metode waarvolgens die werkverrigting van die webwerwe van Internetmaatskappye geevalueer kan word, nie net individueel nie, maar ook in vergelyking met die webwerwe van ander maatskappye in dieselfde industrie. Bestuurders van Internetmaatskappye sal beslis wil weet hoe goed hulle webwerwe funksioneer, wat hulle kan doen om die werkverrigting van webwerwe te verbeter, en watter webwerwe in hulle industrie as uitstaande voorbeelde in sekere areas kan dien. Hierdie tesis spreek die bogenoemde behoeftes aan deur drie doelstellings uit te voer: ► Om 'n raamwerk en kriteria vir die omvattende evaluasie van e-handel webwerwe te ontwikkel. ► Om hierdie raamwerk en gegronde statistiese beredenering te gebruik ten einde 'n metode te ontwikkel wat gebruik kan word om e-handel webwerwe kwantitatief te evalueer, en om die resultate grafies per industrie uit te beeld. ► Om hierdie metode te implementeer deur rekenaarprogrammatuur te ontwikkel wat gebruikers in staat stel om webwerwe te evalueer en die resultate te plot. Die volgende metodologie is gevolg om hierdie doelstellings te laat slaag: ► Bestudeer die navorsing gedoen in die veld van webwerf evaluasie van sowel algemene as e-handel webwerwe. ► Bestudeer die navorsing oor verskillende tegnieke in die veld van Multidimensionele Gradering (Multidimensional Scaling), en identifiseer 'n toepaslike tegniek vir die ontwikkeling van tweedimensionele grafiese voorstellings van webwerf evaluasiedata. ► Brei die webwerf evaluasienavorsing uit en ontwikkel 'n raamwerk en objektiewe kriteria vir die evaluering van e-handel webwerwe, gebaseer op stewige sakebeginsels. ► Ontwikkel 'n metode om webwerf evaluasiedata te versamel wat in industriee gegroepeer is, en stel hierdie resultate grafies voor deur die gebruik van 'n toepaslike Multidimensionele Graderingstegniek. ► Implementeer die metode deur die ontwikkeling van rekenaarprogrammatuur om die proses te outomatiseer. Hierdie dokument beskryf die verloop van die metodologie in detail. Dit lewer verslag oor die e-handel webwerf evaluasieraamwerk wat ontwikkel is; Assosiasie-analise {Correspondence Analysis) as die Multidimensionele Graderingstegniek wat gebruik is om die evaluasie-data te analiseer; die ontwikkeling van die e-handel webwerf evaluasiemetode; en die programmatuur wat ontwikkel is in Microsoft Visual Basic om die evaluasiemetode te implementeer. Al drie doelstellings is in hierdie tesis bereik, ten spyte van sommige probleme—wat ook bespreek word. Die evaluasieraamwerk en meegaande programmatuur kan gebruik word om alle aspekte van e-handel webwerwe te evalueer, en die resultate kan gebruik word om betekenisvolle gevolgtrekkings te maak oor die wyse waarop hierdie webwerwe verbeter kan word.

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