Implications for improving accessibility to e-commerce websites in developing countries: a study of hotel websites

A. Sambhanthan, Alice Good

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This research explores the accessibility issues with regard to the e-commerce websites in developing countries, through a study of Sri Lankan hotel websites. A web survey and a web content analysis were conducted as the methods to elicit data on web accessibility. Factors preventing accessibility were hypothesized as an initial experiment. Affecting design elements are identified through web content analysis, the results of which are utilized to develop specific implications for improving web accessibility. The hypothesis tests show that there is no significant correlation between accessibility and geographical or economic factors. However, physical impairments of users have a considerable influence on the accessibility of web page user interface if it has been designed without full consideration of the needs of all users. Especially, visual and mobility impaired users experience poor accessibility. Poor readability and less navigable page designs are two observable issues, which pose threats to accessibility. The lack of conformance to W3C accessibility guidelines and the poor design process are the specific shortcomings which reduce the overall accessibility. Guidelines aim to improve the accessibility of sites with a strategic focus. Further enhancements are suggested with adherence to principles, user – centered design and developing customizable web portals compatible for connections with differing speeds. Re-ordering search results has been suggested as one of the finest step towards making the web content accessible for users with differing needs. A need for developing new design models for differencing user groups and implementing web accessibility strategy are emphasized as vital steps towards effective information dissemination via e-commerce websites in the developing countries.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Knowledge Based Organizations
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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