Multimodal E-Commerce: A Usability and Social Presence Investigation
This thesis investigates empirically multimodal socially interactive e-commerce interfaces. The overall hypothesis is that multimodal social interaction will improve the usability of e-commerce interfaces and increase the user‘s feeling of social presence, decision making and product understanding when compared to an equivalent non-multimodal socially interactive interface. The investigation consisted eight conditions in three experimental phases. The first experimental phase investigated non-socially interactive, static-socially interactive, and interactive-socially interactive interfaces (three conditions) using an e-commerce platform with a dependent sample of users (n=36). The second experimental phase continued with the comparative evaluation of a further two conditions based on the results of the first phase. An audio and an avatar-based socially interactive conditions were evaluated with two independent groups of users (n=18 for each group). The third experimental phase investigated three socially interactive conditions. These were text with graphics, auditory stimuli, and avatars. The results demonstrate that socially interactive metaphors in e-commerce interfaces improved the ability of users to use presented information effectively, make decisions in comparison to non-social or static social interactive interfaces. An avatar-based socially interactive e-commerce interface improved the user‘s social presence. A set of empirically derived guidelines for the design and use of these metaphors to communicate information in a socially interactive atmosphere is also introduced and discussed .
- PhD