Content Features of Consumer-Catalog Websites

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Title: Content Features of Consumer-Catalog Websites
Author: Helo, Julia Esperanza
Advisors: Stan Dicks, Chair
David Covington, Member
Brad Mehlenbacher, Member
Abstract: The Internet has undergone a tremendous evolution during the past five years. Since 1995, consumer-catalog websites have not only come into being, but have become important business and consumer tools. Despite the upsurge and importance of these websites, it is difficult to find freely available tools that help website developers make important decisions regarding the content of these websites. In this pilot study, I analyze a small sample of websites to compare the features of high-ranked and low-ranked consumer-catalog websites. The purpose of this research is twofold: to determine whether it is possible to pinpoint which features are exhibited by high-ranked and low-ranked websites and to present a tool that could simplify making decisions about certain content-related features. I found that there are, indeed, differences between the content-related features of high-ranked and low-ranked websites. Some features are found more often in high-ranked websites than in low-ranked websites: longer, reader-based product descriptions; humor; certain types of company-related information (investor, staff, and employment information); consistent page design; consistent navigational patterns; sound; specific types of peripheral documents; alternate-language formats; sales incentives (discounts, bestsellers, advertising space, affiliate programs, and gift certificates). Following is a list of the features that are found more often in low-ranked websites than in high-ranked websites: product descriptions that are brief and jargon-laden; inconsistent page design; splash screens; inconsistent navigational patterns; fewer instances of peripheral documents and alternate-language formats than high-ranked sites; and fewer instances of sales incentives than high-ranked sites (discounts, bestsellers, and free product giveaways). I also found that it likely would be possible to develop the sort of tool described above. Implications for further research are also discussed.
Date: 1999-05-13
Degree: MS
Discipline: Technical Communication

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