Using protocol analysis to evaluate the usability of a commercia

Article appearing in Information & Mangement (not available on the Web) that reports results of usability tests on a commercial site using the think aloud method.

Journal: Information & Management, v39n2, Dec 2001, p151-163
Author: Benbunan-Fich, Raquel

Despite the increasing popularity of electronic commerce, there appears to be little evidence of the methodical evaluation of the usability of commercial web sites. The usability of a web site defines how well and how easily a visitor, without formal training, can interact with the site. This paper reports the results of a research project, which applies a systematic qualitative technique known as protocol analysis or think aloud method, to examine the usability of a commercial web site. About 15 usability principles and 3 evaluation parameters (content, navigation and interactivity) were used as a framework to analyze the verbal protocols of a sample of users interacting with a greeting card web site. The protocols provided evidence of usability problems caused by crowded content, poor navigation and cumbersome interactivity. These results underscore the importance of two crucial usability goals for commercial web sites: clear path to products and transparency of the ordering process.