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Effective use of human physiological metrics to evaluate website usability: An empirical investigation from China

Qing-Xing Qu (School of Business Administration, Northeastern University, Shenyang, China) (School of Industrial Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA)
Fu Guo (Department of Industrial Engineering, Northeastern University, Shenyang, China)
Vincent G. Duffy (School of Industrial Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA)

Aslib Journal of Information Management

ISSN: 2050-3806

Article publication date: 17 July 2017

Abstract

Purpose

The evaluation of website usability is the precondition and a critical step for website design and optimization. The purpose of this paper is to investigate and provide empirical evidence of the interrelationships between human physiological metrics and website usability. This study examines how eye-movement metrics and heart rate variability (HRV) evaluate website usability, and then affect users’ online surfing behavior.

Design/methodology/approach

A physiological measurement experiment is designed to collect participants’ physiological metrics. This paper proposes an objective measurement model for website usability, and partial least squares is used to analyze the measurement and structural models, based on data collected from 200 participants who had experienced online surfing at least four times.

Findings

The analysis supports partially or fully 28 of the 31 hypotheses formulated. The study reveals that human physiological metrics (i.e. fixation duration, fixation count, blink count, HRV) have a strong explanatory ability for website usability.

Research limitations/implications

Data for this study were collected only from mainland China. Therefore, participants may have been influenced by Chinese cultures. The generalizability of this study may be enhanced by collecting data from more diverse samples and validating the model on different cultures.

Originality/value

This study contributes significantly to the industry by providing empirical evidence of the interrelationship between human physiological metrics and website usability. The findings also provide managers with valuable insight into better understanding of the nature of these interrelationships.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 71471033 and 71171041). This work was also funded by China Scholarship Council (No. 201506080073). The authors are grateful to all the experimental participants for this research. Further, gratitude is also extended to the reviewers and the editor for their valuable comments.

Citation

Qu, Q.-X., Guo, F. and Duffy, V.G. (2017), "Effective use of human physiological metrics to evaluate website usability: An empirical investigation from China", Aslib Journal of Information Management, Vol. 69 No. 4, pp. 370-388. https://doi.org/10.1108/AJIM-09-2016-0155

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited