This thesis raises the issue of quality in E-commerce websites and addresses
methodologies and approaches to standardize their assessment. The thesis blends the
knowledge of academic research with the opinions and insights from experts and
practitioners in the field to provide a comprehensive view of the issues and their
The most experienced and successful E-commerce companies are beginning to realize
that key determinants of success or failure are not merely a web presence or a low price
but delivering a high quality website. Recent research shows that price and promotion
are no longer the main draws for customers to make a decision on a purchase. More
sophisticated online customers would rather pay a higher price to a provider with high
Given that the establishment of an E-commerce website is mainly a software
development effort; there are several standards that apply in governing the quality of
such development. There seems to be an almost overwhelming abundance of quality
standards that lead to a high level of cynicism and skepticism surrounding them and the
eventual lack of use. Furthermore, no standard can directly predict the quality a website
under development is going to achieve.
Past approaches concerning the quality of E-commerce websites emphasize usability
standards using techniques like feature inspection and collecting data about end-users'
opinion by questionnaires. These methods provide important feedback and their results
can be utilized as a useful background for future work, however, they do not contribute
directly to a dynamic model that enables forecasting. The study of quality in the domain
of the Internet in general, and E-commerce in particular, poses new challenges as
technology evolves, including methods and metrics for estimating, managing quality
during the product life cycle and quality-of-use measurement.
The solution proposed by this research is to use a Bayesian Belief Network model. This
model provides a consistent and practical approach to assessing the quality of the website. The assessment can be carried out before the completion of the website
development, thus, providing insight on the trend and direction for correction and
improvements. It can also be carried out on completed and operational work, providing
analysis of areas for improvement. The model should be relatively quick and practical
in providing an overall comprehensive assessment with root-cause analysis that would
lead to corrective measures to improve the quality of the E-commerce website.
In this research idioms were applied in realizing a complete Bayesian Belief Network
model. The conclusions are measured against comparative assessment to validate the
practical benefits of the work accomplished. The WebQual method was utilized to
validate the "belief" established by the model.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.