Usability and Gratifications-Towards a Website Analysis Model.Report as inadecuate

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This paper discusses Web site usability issues. Specifically, it assumes that the usability of a Web site depends more on the perception of the user than on the objectively assessable usability criteria of the Web site. Two pilot studies, based on theoretical notions of uses and gratifications theory and similar theories, are presented. In the first study, experts evaluated three Web sites on the national park, Mesa Verde, in a more formal approach based on criteria defined in the literature. In the second study, non-experts (eight undergraduate students in a Basic Communication course) evaluated the same three Web sites in a more informal and personal approach, using concurrent, or "thinking aloud," verbal protocol methods. Results show that overall assessment of the Web sites differs between experts and non-experts. Specifically, overall the Web site assessed as worst by the experts was liked most by the non-experts. Cognitive and emotional needs as defined by uses and gratifications seemed to make more of a difference with regard to Web site use, and less with regard to Web site evaluation. Results from these studies provide the basis for a user-centered Web site analysis model that may make use of but not depend on usability criteria defined by the literature. (Contains 82 references, 7 Web sites used/quoted in footnotes, 4 notes, and 2 tables of data. The survey instrument is attached.) (Author/RS)

Descriptors: Comparative Analysis, Higher Education, Pilot Projects, Protocol Analysis, User Needs (Information), User Satisfaction (Information), World Wide Web

Author: Bunz, Ulla K.


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