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Key usability factors of service‐oriented web sites for students: an empirical study

Robert J. Nathan (Multimedia University, Melaka, Malaysia)
Paul H.P. Yeow (Multimedia University, Melaka, Malaysia)
San Murugesan (Jalan Multimedia, Multimedia University, Cyberjaya, Malaysia)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 20 June 2008




This paper aims to report on a web usability study and to identify and prioritise key web interface usability factors (WIUFs) for web sites of 36 student‐related online services categorised into three groups: personal services, purchase services and study‐related web sites.


In this study, involving 400 student internet users (SIUs), 12,310 data points were collected and analysed using a multiple linear regression test. Seven WIUFs were tested: use of colour and font (UCF), use of graphics and multimedia (UGM), clarity of goals in web site (CGW), trustworthiness of web site (TOW), interactivity of web site (IOW), ease of web navigation (EWN), and download speed of web site (DSOW).


The study results reveal that every online service category has a different set of crucial WIUFs. SIUs' web usability preferences were compared with those of general internet users.

Research limitations/implications

The participants were all Malaysians; therefore, generalising the findings to all SIUs will require a confirmatory study with SIUs from other parts of the world.

Practical implications

Web developers can use the results to design usable web sites for specific online service categories.


The research offers a simpler alternative to measure web usability and to determine which WIUFs are crucial for a specific online service category with consideration of the users' role. This study overcomes some weaknesses of previous studies, i.e. small sample size, no consideration of product‐task relationship, no specific customer group and cumbersome procedures.



Nathan, R.J., Yeow, P.H.P. and Murugesan, S. (2008), "Key usability factors of service‐oriented web sites for students: an empirical study", Online Information Review, Vol. 32 No. 3, pp. 302-324.



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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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