IT'S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL: WESTERN USABILITY GUIDELINES PREDICT BEHAVIOR OF CHINESE WEB USERS OF ON-LINE BOOKSTORES
 
Yau, K. Y. and Hayward, W. G., The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
 
The present study examined whether Nielsen's (2000) usability guidelines apply to Chinese websites. Nielsen et al (2000) proposed a set of 207 usability guidelines derived from their observations in the field. We took a subset of 48 of the rules, and looked at the compliance rate (number of guidelines a website complied with, divided by the total number of guidelines), task completion time, task accuracy, users' perceived usability and likeability for four Chinese Online bookstores. Twenty Chinese participants performed information searching tasks and their task completion time and accuracy were recorded. They also needed to fill out a questionnaire to indicate their impression towards the websites. Results showed a very clear relationship between adherence to the rules and usability of the site: as the website's compliance rate increased, so did the usability and the impression the website received from its users. These results suggest that the rules governing behavior of Chinese users are similar to those of Western users. More generally, this study calls into question the widely held intuition that usability for Asian web sites should be different that usability for Western sites.