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The role of human Web assistants in e‐commerce: an analysis and a usability study

Johan Åberg (Department of Computer and Information Science, Linköping University, S‐581 83 Linköping, Sweden)
Nahid Shahmehri (Department of Computer and Information Science, Linköping University, S‐581 83 Linköping, Sweden)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Article publication date: 1 May 2000

Abstract

Electronic commerce has recently shown enormous potential to take over a significant share of the sales market. There is a need to provide services that can reach individual computer users with different information profiles and levels of expertise. In this article the concept of Web assistants, human assistants working in an electronic Web shop, is presented. This human‐computer collaboration provides intelligent and adaptive services via an integrated communication media. A prototype of a Web assistant system has been implemented. While browsing through the system the user can call for human assistance should the need arise. Presents the results of a usability study performed on the prototype system. Recent commercial moves in the direction discussed in this article increase the importance of the usability study. The results are encouraging, especially when it comes to the attitude aspects of usability. The subjects were extremely enthusiastic about the concept of Web assistants and its implications. The human Web assistant who participated in the field trial highlighted the importance of user modelling. Although the system is mainly in the context of electronic commerce, it can be used in many other contexts. These include home automation, digital libraries, and technical support, to name a few.

Keywords

Citation

Åberg, J. and Shahmehri, N. (2000), "The role of human Web assistants in e‐commerce: an analysis and a usability study", Internet Research, Vol. 10 No. 2, pp. 114-125. https://doi.org/10.1108/10662240010322902

Publisher

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MCB UP Ltd

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