The influence of aesthetics on website user perceptions

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Authors
Phillips, Christine Michelle
Advisors
Chaparro, Barbara S.
Issue Date
2007-12
Type
Dissertation
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Abstract

As Internet users become more sophisticated, so do their requirements for the websites they utilize. Two major factions in the field of website design have argued over the importance of site usability vs. site appeal. Previous research examined site usability as a main component of user satisfaction on the Internet. Current research is beginning to examine the aesthetic appeal of websites and the impact on user satisfaction. This research attempted to address the following questions: 1. Do individual differences affect user ratings of site appeal? 2. Do usability and appeal manipulations to websites affect satisfaction, perceived usability and interest in the site? 3. Does the type of task a user is completing on the Internet impact their awareness of the site’s appeal and usability? In a two part study, users evaluated the aesthetic appeal of site homepages to determine if individual differences impact site first impressions. In a follow up study, users completed different types of tasks on sites with varying levels of appeal and usability. Results indicate that there individual differences do not appear to influence on site appeal ratings. When users are asked to evaluate sites with varying degrees of appeal and usability, their first impressions are most influenced by the appeal of the site. Those viewing the sites with low appeal were not positively influenced by the site’s usability, even when the site was easy to use. Participants viewing sites with high appeal were aware of changes to usability and their site ratings decreased when the site had poor usability. Finally, task type appeared to impact user judgments on the site. Participants actively searching for information were more aware of usability issues than participants instructed to explore the site with no specific task requirements.

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Thesis (Ph.D.)--Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of Psychology
"December 2007."
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Wichita State University
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