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International Journal of Information Management 20 (2000) 197}208

Towards an understanding of the behavioural intention to use a web site


Judy Chuan-Chuan Lin , Hsipeng Lu *
Department of Information Management, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, 43 Keelung Road, Sector 4, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC Department of Computer and Information Science, Soochow University, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC

Abstract The growing popularity of the Internet has resulted in exciting opportunities for companies to reach out for customers with very little additional costs. In order to communicate with the potential customers through WWW e!ectively, a well-designed Web page is needed. Yet, the factors that a!ect customer's perception about the acceptance of a Web site are unclear. This paper addresses why users accept or reject a Web site and how user's acceptance is a!ected by the features (i.e. information quality of a Web site, response time and system accessibility) provided by a Web site. A study with 139 users of a Web site was conducted to test the hypothesised model. The results showed that the technology acceptance model (TAM) fully mediated the usage behaviour even in the Internet environment, accounting for 64% of the variance in usage. Furthermore, response time of a Web site is an important factor in a!ecting the user's beliefs of such a Web site. This showed that Web page providers not only have to make the content informative and timely, but they also need to design a speedy Web page by not putting in unnecessary pictorial data as it might jeopardise the display time. 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: WWW; Technology acceptance model (TAM); Web site acceptance; Internet

1. Introduction The use of the Internet, in particular the World Wide Web (WWW, or the Web), has proliferated rapidly since the initial commercial applications in 1994. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), the number of users will soar from 100 million in 1998 to more than 500 million

* Corresponding author. Tel.: #886-2-27376781; fax: #886-2-27376777. E-mail address: hsipeng@cs.ntust.edu.tw (H. Lu). 0268-4012/00/$ - see front matter 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. PII: S 0 2 6 8 - 4 0 1 2 ( 0 0 ) 0 0 0 0 5 - 0

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in 2003 (IDC, 1999). The amount of spending in the Web increases tremendously as well. It is estimated to surge to $3 trillion in 2003 (IDC, 1999). In such a short history, the Internet has become the fastest growing mechanism for electronic markets by providing substantial market potential and o!ering a new way to communicate person-to-person. With great enthusiasm, companies rushed to set up the Web sites to bene"t from this communication channel and to explore the potential customers in the virtual marketplace. However, many of them failed to utilise the Web site e!ectively (Dutta, Kwan & Segev, 1998). In fact, most companies used the Web pages merely as another means to exhibit their static information about the companies and the operations (Angehrn & Meyer, 1997). By providing the `inappropriatea information on the site, the companies can even endanger their precious business images. The fact that the number of `#oppeda cases still out-numbered the successful ones by a great margin in today's Internet enhances the above scepticism. It is, thus, imperative for the companies as well as the researchers to extend their attentions to the possible factors to enhance the Web site quality. One of the special characteristics of the Internet is its interactivity (Butler & Peppard, 1998; Ghosh, 1998; Palmer & Gri$th, 1998; Peterson, Balasubramanian & Bronnenberg, 1997). Because of the character of interactivity, the customer-oriented marketing concept presented by Kotler (1967) is no longer a mirage. With the use of the Internet, many traditional business concepts need to be rephrased. Due to the many-to-many communication (Ho!man & Novak, 1997), customer's power has grown while the "rm's declines (Bakos, 1997; Benjamin & Wigand, 1995; Kozinets, 1999; Rayport & Sviokla, 1994, 1995). Therefore, it is vital to examine the customer's perceptions about a Web site since these perceptions may give a clue to manage the Web sites e!ectively. Accordingly, this paper focuses on the study of the perception of customers about the Web sites. In considering such an issue, we believe that information system (IS) quality (which includes the perceived information quality, response time, and accessibility of the Web site) is a very in#uential factor in determining the user's beliefs of usefulness and ease of use of a Web site. In this study, we present a path analytic model of a user's (customer's) perceptions about a Web site from the perspective of technical issue (IS quality). In addition, path analysis is applied to explore the empirical strength of the relationship in the proposed model.

2. Conceptual model and research hypotheses In the model tested in this paper, user's perceptions for the Web sites are supposed to hinge on IS quality. Fig. 1 depicts the research model and illustrates the propositions tested in this research. 2.1. User's perceptions of a Web The user's perceptions of a Web site are considered by applying the technology acceptance model (TAM, Davis, 1989; Davis, Bagozzi & Warshaw, 1989). TAM has been widely used to predict the acceptance of a new technology, such as the acceptance of new software packages. It postulates that the two variables, perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use, have great relevance to technology acceptance behaviours. Studies subsequent to Davis (1989) suggest that TAM yields highly consistent result on the acceptance behaviour of the users towards new systems in the o$ce environment (Abdul-Gader, 1996; Adams, Nelson & Todd, 1992; Chin & Gopal, 1995;

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Fig. 1. Research model for Web site acceptance.

Gefen & Straub, 1997; Igbaria, Guimaraes & Davis, 1995; Lu & Yeh, 1998; Mathieson, 1991; Szajna, 1994, 1996). Though some researches further modi"ed the TAM recently and extended its application to the Internet arena (Agarwal & Prasad, 1997; Teo, Lim & Lai, 1999), the related studies of the usage behaviour in the Internet environment is still primitive. It is not clear as to what external variables would a!ect the usage behaviour and intentions. According to TAM, user's perception about a Web site is de"ned by beliefs (subjective probability of the consequence if the Web site is used), attitude (positive and negative feelings about the Web site), and intentions (willingness to use the Web site). In this particular study, perceived usefulness and ease of use of the Web site, preferences for the Web site, and willingness to revisit the Web site are used to measure beliefs, attitude and intentions, respectively. The perceived usefulness and ease of use of a Web site are de"ned as the extent to which the user believes that using the Web sites would increase his/her work performance without too much e!ort. The preference for a Web site represents the extent to which the user is interested in the Web site. Intention is the extent to which the user would like to reuse the Web site in the future. As generally assumed, beliefs would in#uence the user's preferences and, then, both would determine the intentions. As Fig. 1 indicates, the relationships are represented as the following functions: Function 1: Intention to reuse a Web site " f (preference, perceived ease, perceived usefulness) Function 2: Preference for a Web site " f (perceived ease, perceived usefulness) The corresponding hypotheses are: Hypothesis 1a: There will be positive relationships between Intentions and Preference for the use of a Web site. Hypothesis 1b: There will be positive relationships between Intentions and Beliefs (perceived usefulness and ease) about the use of a Web site. Hypothesis 2: There will be positive relationships between Preference and Beliefs (perceived usefulness and ease) about the use of a Web site.

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2.2. IS quality DeLone and McLean (1992) conducted an extensive research on the possible constructs that would a!ect the success of an information system (IS). They suggested that quality measures which included information quality and system quality are important constructs related to the success of IS. Since the design of a Web site is within the framework of IS, we postulate that the beliefs about a Web site (i.e. perceived usefulness, and ease of use) are functions of the IS quality. In this study, we choose information quality, response time, and system accessibility as the variables to express the IS quality for the following reasons. First, these three variables and similar means have been considered as important variables to measure IS success by prior researches (Bailey & Pearson, 1983; DeLone & McLean, 1992; Seddon, 1997; Srinivasan, 1985). Secondly, despite the popularity of the Internet, many people resist using it due to the slow response time, caused by poor design of the Web sites or simply heavy tra$c on the Internet, and lack of system accessibility, induced by the availability of the web-related information system (computers, modems, on-line services, and software, etc.). Therefore, the quality of the information system (the Web site) measured by these three variables is considered important in a!ecting user's beliefs of a Web site. As Fig. 1 depicts, the relationships can be expressed in the following functions: Function 3: Perceived usefulness of a Web site " f (IS quality, perceived ease of use) Function 4: Perceived ease of use of a Web site " f (IS quality) The corresponding hypotheses are: Hypothesis 3: The extent of a user's beliefs of perceived usefulness about a Web site is related to the variables of IS quality (information quality, response time, system accessibility), and perceived ease. The extent of a user's beliefs of perceived ease of using a Web site is related to the variables of IS quality (information quality, response time, and system accessibility).

Hypothesis 4:

3. Sample and procedure The sample included 145 undergraduate students (male 92, female 53) who were taking the course of Basic Computer Concepts at Soochow University, Taipei, Taiwan. While this student sample may cause a generalisation problem, the study recruited student subjects for three reasons. First of all, according to the survey done by Yam.com, a popular portal site in Taiwan (http://www.yam.com.tw), about 80% of Internet users in Taiwan are college students (Li, 1999). Secondly, the students will eventually become the most active Internet users and in#uential consumers in the marketspace in the near future. Understanding the needs and preferences of potential customers are important and desirable. In addition, use of students as the sample in this study can decrease the e!ect of computer literacy variances. The "ndings can provide a further understanding of user's perception in the marketspace and o!er an impetus for future research.

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Students were given a 30 min training session to familiarise themselves with using Internet to locate and utilise China Times Inter@ctive, an electronic newspaper in Taiwan (http://www.chinatimes.com.tw). Scales were developed for measuring each of the variables in the proposed model. For each scale, students were asked to express their degree to which they agree with the statements on a 1}5 scale with `1a representing disagree completely and `5a agree completely. The items measuring the perceived ease of using a Web site are `Browsing the China Times Inter@ctive is easya, `Linking to it is easya, and `Finding information on it is easya. The items on perceived usefulness of a Web site are `I have gained the knowledge of today's news after using China Times Inter@ctive a, `I have gained interesting information after reading ita, `I can reduce the time spent reading the traditional newspapers after reading ita, `The information provided by it is usefula, `I am fast in grasping the latest news after using ita, and `I can capture the complete coverage of the news after using ita. The three attitude (preference) items were `I like reading China Times Inter@ctive a, `I feel good about using ita, and `I think positively towards using ita. The three intention items were `China Times Inter@ctive is worthy of readinga, `I intend to use this news services in the futurea, and `I plan to bookmark the site for future referencea. IS quality is represented by the three constructs: information quality, response time, and system accessibility. Herein, the three items for information quality are `The information provided by China Times Inter@ctive is correcta, `I believe in the information provided by ita, and `The news provided by it is completea. The three response time items are `The response time of China Times Inter@ctive is fasta, `The interaction is e!ectivea, and `I don't have to wait too long to use ita. For the system accessibility, the items are `It is easy for me to "nd a computer to link to the Weba, `I don't have to wait on a line to use computera, and `There are enough computers for me to use to browse on the Weba. The questionnaire was distributed in class. One hundred and forty-"ve (145) students handed in their responses and one hundred and thirty-nine (139) of them were valid.

4. Results 4.1. Scale reliability and descriptive statistics The reliability of all instruments was assessed by the Cronbach alpha reliability coe$cient (Cronbach, 1951). The coe$cient alphas (Cronbach alpha) for the intentions to reuse a Web site, preference for a Web site, perceived usefulness of a Web site, and perceived ease of a Web site were 0.82, 0.81, 0.88, 0.85, respectively, which are above the conventional level of 0.7 (Nunnally, 1978). Descriptive statistics were calculated as displayed in Table 1. It can be found that, on average, students respond to the use of China Times Inter@ctive in a positive manner (the averages are all greater than 3). 4.2. Correlation Table 2 presents the "rst-order correlation coe$cients among the variables. The bi-variate relationships indicate that all the variables were signi"cantly correlated with each other.

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Table 1 Descriptive statistics (N"139) Information quality Response time System accessibility Usefulness Ease of use Preference Intention to use Mean 3.58 3.57 3.65 3.45 3.70 3.51 3.56 SD 0.70 0.70 0.83 0.71 0.79 0.71 0.80

Table 2 Correlation analysis Intention Intention Preference Usefulness Ease Information quality Response time System accessibility p(0.001 1.00 0.75 0.72 0.68 0.51 0.60 0.59 Preference Usefulness Ease

1.00 0.71 0.73 0.52 0.67 0.57

1.00 0.68 0.62 0.67 0.57

1.00 0.51 0.66 0.60

4.3. Analytic strategy for assessing the model The data were analysed using path analysis (Kenny, 1979; Land, 1969; Li, 1975). Path analysis is a multivariate analytical methodology for empirically examining sets of relationships in the form of linear causal models (Duncan, 1986; Li, 1975). Path analysis has been applied to many disciplines, including sociology (Duncan, 1986), psychology (Werts & Linn, 1960), management (Anderson, Helriegel & Slocum, 1977; Lu & Yeh, 1998; Neumann, 1978). Specifying a path diagram is the "rst step in path analysis. The hypothetical causal relationships are represented by unidirectional arrows linking two variables together. Fig. 1 depicts the proposed model of path diagram in this study. According to Fig. 1, IS quality is posited to exert simultaneous, direct, and linear in#uences on both perceived usefulness and ease of using a Web site. The user's beliefs further in#uence his/her preference for a Web site as well as the intention to reuse the Web. The value of the path coe$cient associated with each path represents the strength of each linear in#uence. Although the path coe$cients can be estimated in many ways (Kenny, 1979), multiple regression analyses (i.e., ordinary least-squares estimation) have been used by most

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empirical applications of this methodology. The path coe$cient has been shown to be identical to the standardised regression coe$cients (Li, 1975). These coe$cients are comparable among variables because they are normalised into the same unit. Path analysis excels conventional regression analysis in terms of the former's ability to extend `the single-multiple-regressionequation treatment to a network of equations involving more than one equationa (Li, 1975, p. 135). 4.4. Evaluating the hypothesised model Fig. 2 presents the "nal model with the non-signi"cant paths removed. Multicollinearity is ruled out because the correlation between independent variables are all less than 0.8 (Asher, 1983; Emory & Cooper, 1991) and the VIFs (variance in#ation factor) are all less than 10 (Neter & Kutner, 1990). The scatter plots were examined to avoid the problems of non-linear relationships, extreme scores and combined groups. For multiple regression analysis, the scatter plots of the standardised residuals by the standardised predicted scores were also examined to verify the assumption of linearity. In terms of goodness-of-"t indicators, the model accounts for 64% of the variance in the intention to reuse the Web site. In addition, usefulness and ease of use account for 61% of the variance in preference for the Web site. Information quality and response time account for 59% of the variance in perceived usefulness of a Web. In addition, 49% of the variance in perceived ease of using a Web is explained by response time and system accessibility. The above results can be summarised as follows. F1: Intention to reuse a Web site"f (preference, perceived ease, perceived usefulness) In terms of the multiple regression equation predicting a user's intention, only two hypothesised paths from preference for a Web site and perceived usefulness of a Web are signi"cant. The path from perceived ease is removed. The e!ect of preference for a Web site is fairly strong, as indicated by the path coe$cient of 0.40 (p(0.001). The other path coe$cient ("0.34) from perceived

Fig. 2. Web site acceptance: path analysis.

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usefulness of a Web is also statistically signi"cant at p(0.001. These two paths together account for approximately 64% of the observed variance for the intention to reuse the Web site. Notably, Hypotheses 1a and b are supported at the 0.05 level of signi"cance. F2: Preference for a Web site"f (perceived ease, perceived usefulness) Preference for a Web site is statistically signi"cantly related to both perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use of a Web. The e!ect of perceived usefulness on the preference is strong as indicated by the path coe$cient of 0.38 (p(0.001). The other path coe$cient ("0.48) from perceived ease of use to preference for a Web is also statistically signi"cant at p(0.001. Sixty-one percent (61%) of the observed variance in preference for a Web can be explained from these two paths. Accordingly, Hypothesis 2 are con"rmed at the 0.05 level of signi"cance. F3: Perceived usefulness of a Web site"f (perceived ease, IS quality) Perceived usefulness of a Web site is statistically signi"cantly predicted by three paths from information quality and response time of the Web site and perceived ease of using a Web. The path coe$cients from the above paths are 0.27 (p(0.001), 0.25 (p(0.01), and 0.33 (p(0.001), respectively. The three paths together explain approximately 59% of the observed variance in perceived usefulness. Thus, Hypothesis 3 is supported at the 0.05 level of signi"cance. F4: Perceived ease of use of a Web site"f (IS quality) Perceived ease of use of a Web site can be statistically signi"cantly predicted by two paths from response time and system accessibility. The path coe$cients from such paths are 0.43 (p(0.001) and 0.26 (p(0.01), respectively. These two paths together account for 49% of the observed variance in perceived ease of a Web site use. Again, Hypothesis 4 is con"rmed at the 0.05 level of signi"cance.

5. Discussion This study examines the TAM model in the Internet environment by adding IS quality as external variables. The study has provided some valuable insight into the user's acceptance of a Web site from the perspectives of IS quality. We have also tested the descriptive validity of TAM in the domain of Internet environment. Based on the results presented herein, several implications can be made. 5.1. Relative strength of perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness The "nding of this study shows that the technology acceptant behaviour in the voluntary usage environment (i.e. Internet) can be predicted by using TAM (R"0.64). One "nding of this study is the relative strength of the perceived usefulness}reusage relationship compared to the ease of use} reusage relationship. In fact, the regression analysis shows that usefulness}reusage relationship

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remains large while the ease of use}reusage relationship has diminished (see Fig. 2). Consistent with the previous researches (Adams et al., 1992; Chin & Gopal, 1995; Chin & Todd, 1995; Davis, 1989; Davis et al., 1989; Gefen & Straub, 1997; Mathieson, 1991), usefulness is signi"cantly more strongly linked to reusage than is ease of use, while ease of use exerts a signi"cant e!ect on usefulness. Moreover, the signi"cant bivariate ease-intention and ease-preference relationships may be attributed to the possible causal chains: easePusefulnessPintention, and easePusefulnessPpreference as shown in Fig. 2. Therefore, perception of ease can facilitate in perceiving usefulness as well as developing preference for a Web site. Perceived ease, thus, exerts an indirect impact on the user's intention to reuse a Web site. The above results seem to provide the following implications. Usefulness is still the primary concern for using a Web site. Ease of using a Web site, however, has indirect e!ect on the formation of intentions. That is, the easier a Web site is to use, the more useful it is perceived to be. Therefore, to promote user's intention to reuse a Web site, the company should promote the Web site's usefulness more than its ease. Increasing the ease of using a Web site alone would not increase the user's intention to rehit the site.

5.2. An user's perception about a Web site with respect to IS quality The quality of information, provided by a Web site, is a very important factor in leading people to believe in the usefulness of that Web site. According to Fig. 2, there is a direct positive e!ect of information quality on perceived usefulness but not on perceived ease of use. This is consistent with the past study (DeLone & McLean, 1992; Seddon, 1997) which identi"ed that information quality and usefulness of a system were greatly related with each other. The Web site that provides higher quality of information would result in a greater perceived usefulness from the user. However, higher quality of information does not necessarily contribute to the degree of ease of use perceived by the user. Response time of a Web site refers to the time that user spends on waiting to interact with a site. From the result of the study shown in Fig. 2, we conclude that the e!ectiveness of response time would greatly a!ect the user's beliefs (perceived usefulness and ease of use) of a Web site. Furthermore, response time a!ects the perceived ease more than perceived usefulness. This phenomenon synchronizes with the general beliefs that shorter response time will result in a smoother man}machine interaction, which will lead to a higher perceived ease of use of the Web site by the user (Eighmey, 1997). System accessibility refers to the availability of related system (such as PC, modem, and on-line services) for accessing the Web site. Fig. 2 illustrates a direct positive e!ect of system accessibility on perceived ease but not on perceived usefulness. This "nding can be explained as follows. As the on-line facility is widely available, the user can get the access of the facility whenever he/she feels necessary. It, thus, creates fewer barriers for the user to use the Web site and, hence, makes the user perceive the use of the Web site as easier, but not as more useful. Notably, the response time exerts similar level of e!ects on perceived usefulness compared to the information quality, while it also has signi"cant in#uence on perceived ease of use. Therefore, response time is the most prominent factor in developing the user's beliefs of a Web site. In hindsight, the "ndings make sense conceptually: with such a special environment as Internet, any

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design that jeopardises the response time will de"nitely a!ect user's perception of the Web site. Though pictorial representation of information may be more e!ective than text form, the former will a!ect the response time signi"cantly (Eighmey, 1997). Therefore, the Web designer needs to be cautious in selecting the right types of information media to represent information on the Web. 6. Conclusion and limitations This study investigates the perceptions of the user about a Web site from the perspective of IS quality in terms of information quality, response time and system accessibility. Results indicate that perceived usefulness of a Web user is signi"cantly a!ected by the quality of information provided by the Web site and the amount of time that user spends on waiting for the responses from the Web. The availability of the on-line system and its response time, on the other hand, a!ect the user's perception of how easy it is to use the Web site. Hence, the practitioners seeking to facilitate the adoption of the Internet should emphasize the quality of the Web site content and the e$ciency of the Web site. It implies that Web page providers not only have to make the content informative and timely, but they also need to design a speedy Web page by not putting in unnecessary data as it might jeopardise the display time. Furthermore, e!orts should also be made to increase the availability of the on-line accessibility. Such tasks can be accomplished by lowering the cost of ISP charge as well as reducing the network service charge. Although the results showed that information quality, response time and system accessibility a!ect the user's belief of a Web site, it is important to realize that other factors may also play an important role in a!ecting user's beliefs. Examples of such factors include subjective norms and peer in#uence (Karahanna & Straub, 1999), computer experience (Igaria, 1993), and innovation characteristics (Agarwal & Prasad, 1997; Liao, Shao, Wang & Chen, 1999). Future research should gear towards the search of the roles a!ecting user's beliefs. The results of this study should be interpreted and accepted with caution for several reasons. First, statistical analysis only provides numerical relationships. Interpretation of those numbers is authors' subjective appraisal. The other limitation is generalisability. The present study employed students with initial training in an attempt to control for the variability in computer literacy and familiarity with the electronic newspaper. Care should be exercised when generalising these results to other settings, such as the users without the initial training. However, the results can still o!er some insights to predict the behavioural intention for other users. Furthermore, consistent results with other studies and theory, like TAM, enhance the con"dence in the "ndings. Therefore, this study not only provides a further understanding into the user's possible perceptions about a Web site, but also o!ers an impetus for future research. Acknowledgements The authors would like to thank the National Science Council of the Republic of China for "nancially supporting this work under the contract of NSC88-2416-H-011-011. The editor and anonymous reviewers are also appreciated for their valuable comments and suggestions.

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Judy Chuan-Chuan Lin is a lecturer of Computer and Information Science at Soochow University, Taiwan. She received the B.S.E.E. degree from Columbia University, New York, in 1986, M.S. degree from Polytechnic University of New York in 1987, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology. Her research interests include Internet marketing and electronic commerce. Hsipeng Lu is a professor of Information Management at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology. He received the B.S. degree from Tung-Hai University, Taiwan, in 1985, the M.S. degree from National Hsin-Hai University, Taiwan, in 1987, and the Ph.D. and M.S. in Industrial Engineering from University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1992 and 1991 respectively. He also works as a consultant for many companies in Taiwan. His current research interests are in electronic commerce, Internet marketing, and knowledge management.