eCulture : examining and quantifying cultural differences in user acceptance between Chinese and British web site users
The World Wide Web (WWW) has become an important medium for communicating between people all over the world. It is regarded as a global system and is associated with a wide user and social system diversity. The effects of differing user-groups and their associated cultures on user acceptance of web sites can be significant, and as a result understanding the behaviour of web users in various cultures is becoming a significant concern. The eCulture research project is based on previous classical theories and research in culture. It applies a factorial experimental design strategy (the Taguchi method) in crosscultural usability / acceptability, together with other approaches such as semiotic analysis and card sorting. Two types of analysis, both top-down and bottom-up have been implemented to investigate differences in web site usability and acceptability between users from Mainland China and the United Kingdom. Based on experiments on web sites investigating the relationship between cultural issues and usability lacceptability aspects between Chinese and British web users, several issues, such as cultural factors, cognitive abilities, social semiotic differences and other issues have emerged. One of the goals has been to develop 'cultural fingerprints' for both web sites and users in different cultures. By comparing cultural and site fingerprints, usability and acceptability of web sites can be diagrammatically matched to the target culture. Experiments investigating qualitative factors and quantitative data collection and analysis based on the Taguchi method has led to the successful development of two versions of 'cultural fingerprint' for both web sites and target cultures in the UK and China. It has been possible to relate these studies to a wider body of knowledge, and to suggest ways in which the work may be extended in the future.