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    An exploratory study of the design preferences of U.S. and Chinese virtual communities

    Tan, Felix B., Lin, Huogang and Urquhart, Cathy (2006) An exploratory study of the design preferences of U.S. and Chinese virtual communities. International journal of e-business research, 2 (3). pp. 47-69. ISSN 1548-1131

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    With the increasing popularity of electronic commerce, businesses are starting to recognise that developing a good virtual community can help to generate more profits. Virtual communities can be an instrument for building relationships with customers, and retaining customers' loyalty. Of interest are the similarities and differences in the design preferences of virtual communities across cultural groups. This paper, therefore, examined the design preferences of virtual communities in two cultural groups. The design preferences studied are Web design, tools used, and types of virtual communities preferred. Content analysis was employed to study 20 of the most popular Chinese and U.S. virtual communities. The study found that there are differences in the preference for the type of virtual communities and the tools used by Chinese and U.S. communities. The findings challenge aspects of Web site design across these cultural groups thought to be dissimilar based on prior research, indicating that designers of virtual communities must treat cultural differences with caution. Implications for research and practice are also discussed.

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