VOLUME 13, NO. 3 June 2001
How can you evaluate a Web site to find out if itís likely to get hits--or gets missed? With WebQual, thatís how. Eleanor T. Loiacono, assistant professor of management, developed the system as part of her Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Georgia.
WebQual scores sites in a dozen categories, including informational fit to task (how the information meets customersí needs), trust (how companies present how they transfer information on their Web sites); response (loading) time; design issues (visuals, how easily it is to read text); and intuitiveness (ease of use and navigation). Recognizing that too much of a good thing can be bad, Loiacono added "innovativeness" to WebQual. "To be effective, you want a site that people understand and are used to, but it shouldnít be a knockoff. You want to be creative in the ways you use the elements of the best sites.
"This is the first academic system that takes into account management information systems and marketing considerations," explains Loiacono. "Its unlimited potential hinges on the correlation between the WebQual score and the Web surferís intention to buy a product or revisit a site."
"WebQual is the first instrument for measuring Web site quality as perceived by the Web visitor," says Loiaconoís faculty advisor, Richard Y. Watson, director of the University of Georgiaís Center for Information Systems. "I fully expect that it will become a widely used standard in academe and industry."
The systemís potential is already being realized. WebQual has been used by several researchers in the United States and the United Kingdom and is a teaching tool for WPIís MBA students. Its potential, of course, is as wide as the Internet itself.
Loiacono joined the WPI faculty at the beginning of the 2000-01 academic year after completing her doctorate in business administration. She also holds a B.A. in international relations from Boston University and an MBA from Boston College. As a result of her work on WebQual, she was chosen a fellow at the International Conference on Information Systems Doctoral Consortium, sponsored by Ernst and Young, and was a runner-up in the national George Day Doctoral Awards, sponsored by Coca-Cola. For more information about WebQual, check out Loiaconoís Web page at www.wpi.edu/~eloiacon
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