Project

Perception of websites

Goal: Understanding what drives web-users' perceptions of aesthetics, usability and content.

Methods: Electroencephalography, Questionnaire-Based Surveys, Web Usability, Usability Studies, reaction time experiments

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Meinald Thielsch
added a research item
In digital media and on the World Wide Web, content is king. As such, users’ subjective perceptions of content can influence a variety of their evaluations, thereby altering their attitudes and behavioral outcomes. Thus, users’ content perceptions need to be assessed using a valid measure, but this often has to be done while keeping the survey time as short as possible. For these situations, we created a four-item short version of the Web-CLIC questionnaire. We tested this version, called the Web-CLIC-S, in a series of three studies, including 1,414 participants and 33 fully functional websites of different content domains. Confirmatory factor analysis confirms that the Web-CLIC-S reflects an unidimensional g-factor of subjective web content. The Web-CLIC-S also demonstrates high internal consistencies and high short- to medium-term retest reliabilities. Furthermore, we find strong evidence for construct validity in terms of convergent, divergent, discriminative, concurrent, incremental, and predictive validity. In a fourth study, encompassing 12,568 ratings on 183 websites, we provide benchmarks for 12 different content domains and optimal cut points. Overall, the present research suggests that the Web-CLIC-S can serve as a sound screening tool to assess users’ subjective perception of content in research and practice settings.
Meinald Thielsch
added 6 research items
In der Praxis wird schnelles Nutzerfeedback zunehmend wichtiger – und häufig mit eingeschränkten Stichproben generiert. Der vorliegende Beitrag analysiert Unterschiede in der Wahrnehmung von Webseiten in Abhängigkeit zum Kundenstatus. Insgesamt 481 deutsch- und englischsprachige User besuchten in einem Online-Experiment Webseiten und evaluierten zentrale Website-Faktoren (Inhalt, Usability und Ästhetik), die Wiederbesuchs- und Weiterempfehlungsbereitschaft sowie den Gesamtauftritt. Die Ergebnisse zeigen, dass der Kundenstatus (registrierte Kunden versus nicht-registrierte User) eine zentrale Rolle bei der Bewertung eines Online-Stores spielt. Registrierte Kunden bewerteten diesen im Hinblick auf alle genannten Faktoren außer Usability signifikant besser als nicht-registrierte User. Dies lässt auf einen Einfluss der Markenwahrnehmung auf die Website-Bewertung schließen.
Users access the Internet not only to pursue specific goals (e.g. searching for information), but also to browse through content in a more exploratory fashion. The current study experimentally manipulates participants’ tasks in order to investigate how goal-directed (searching) or exploratory (browsing) website activities moderate the impact of key website attributes on users’ overall judgements. A total of 481 participants fulfilled either browsing or searching tasks online and rated the subjective perception of content, aesthetics and usability, as a predictor and overall impression, recommendation and revisit intention as outcome variables. Using path-models, the results show strong and positive relationships between predictor and outcome variables that were moderated by the task. In the browsing condition, both the recommendation and revisit intention were only, but strongly, predicted by content perception. When searching, this relationship was weakened and also related to aesthetics. The impact of perceived usability on the outcomes was not significantly influenced by the task. Therefore, the present study provides evidence against the assumption that certain website facets become more or less important for the evaluation of a website, depending on the user’s goal-directedness. Instead, our findings contradict common assumptions on two accounts: Aesthetics as a hedonic website facet may not only be processed in a bottom-up fashion when browsing and usability as a utilitarian website facet may not mostly be processed top-down when searching.
We investigated whether design experts or laypersons evaluate webpages differently. Twenty participants, 10 experts and 10 laypersons, judged the aesthetic value of a webpage in an EEG-experiment. Screenshots of 150 webpages, judged as aesthetic or as unaesthetic by another 136 participants, served as stimulus material. Behaviorally, experts and laypersons evaluated unaesthetic webpages similarly, but they differed in their evaluation of aesthetic ones: experts evaluated aesthetic webpages as unaesthetic more often than laypersons did. The ERP-data show main effects of level of expertise and of aesthetic value only. There was no interaction of expertise and aesthetics. In a time window of 110 -130 ms after stimulus onset, aesthetic webpages elicited a more negative EEG-amplitude than unaesthetic webpages. In the same time window, experts had more negative EEG-amplitudes than laypersons. This patterning of results continued until a time window of 600 - 800 ms in which group and aesthetic differences diminished. An interaction of perceiver characteristics and object properties that several interactionist theories postulate was absent in the EEG-data. Experts seem to process the stimuli in a more thorough manner than laypersons. The early activation differences between aesthetic and unaesthetic webpages is in contrast with some theories of aesthetic processing and has not been reported before.
Meinald Thielsch
added 2 research items
Aesthetics has become a central construct in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), and it has clear beneficial effects on users' perceptions and attitudes. Yet, do attractive interfaces actually enhance user performance? In the light of the importance of the construct and the mixed findings in various studies on the matter a systematic approach is urgently needed. Thus, the present meta-analysis examines in detail the effects of visual interface aesthetics of websites, software and other interactive systems on objective user performance. A systematic literature search yielded 25 eligible studies with 101 observed effects and a total of 3,025 participants. The conducted meta-analysis revealed a small significant overall effect of interface aesthetics on user performance (g = 0.12), while a high heterogeneity of effects was observed. As potential moderators, we tested the type of used interaction medium, task, goal orientation, measure of performance, measure of aesthetics, and aesthetics manipulation. None showed a significant moderating influence. Thus, aesthetics can be considered to have a small but heterogeneous influence on user performance that so far cannot be further resolved by moderating variables reported in eligible studies. Therefore, the discussion sketches avenues for future research and encloses a call to action for the HCI community.
When planning studies to evaluate websites practitioners need to answer two central questions: (1) Which instrument should be used? (2) How many users should be queried? While the answer to the first question depends on the goal of the specific evaluation, the second question can also be answered in relation to fundamental psychometric relationships. The present study explores the relationship between the reliability of the questionnaire, and the required sample size. Based on questionnaires to assess website-content, we determine how many user have to be sampled to achieve a specific precision. Based on these results we present guidelines, that practitioners can use when planning their evaluation study.
Meinald Thielsch
added a research item
Scores of different evaluation measures resulting from website tests are difficult to interpret without comparative data. Benchmarks and optimal cut points provide such interpretation aids. Benchmarks are usually built with test score means based on a tested pool of comparable websites. Optimal cut points are calculated with an external criterion using receiver-operating-characteristic (ROC) based methods applied on website evaluations. Due to relevance and sensitivity of the topic, making the right decision based on evaluation data is of particular importance for creators and owners of websites presenting health-related information. Thus, we combined data of two studies, with a total of n = 2.614 participants, evaluating m=33 health-related websites. Established questionnaires were applied: Web-CLIC (website content), PWU-G and UMUX-Lite (usability), VisAWI-S (aesthetics), and trusting belief scales of McKnight et al. [7]. We calculated overall and specific values for four categories of e-health websites. Benchmarks were quite comparable among categories while optimal cut points differed more. Particularly, cut points were high for charity websites and partly lower for the category "Personal sites & support groups". In general, user requirements for e-health websites appear to be significantly higher than available published benchmarks and cut points for websites in other areas.
Meinald Thielsch
added a research item
In Human-Computer Interaction research, the positive effect of aesthetics on users’ subjective impressions and reactions is well-accepted. However, results regarding the influence of interface aesthetics on a user’s individual performance as an objective outcome are very mixed, yet of urgent interest due to the proceeding of digitalization. In this web-based experiment ( N = 331), the effect of interface aesthetics on individual performance considering three different types of tasks (search, creative, and transfer tasks) is investigated. The tasks were presented on an either aesthetic or unaesthetic website, which differed significantly in subjective aesthetics. Goal orientation (learning versus performance goals) was included as a possible moderator variable, which was manipulated by using different task instructions. Both aesthetics and goal orientation were a between-subject factor, leading to a 2 × 2 between subject design. Manipulation checks were highly significant. Yet the results show neither significant main effects of aesthetics and goal orientation on performance regarding both accuracy and response times in each of the three tasks, nor significant interaction effects. Nevertheless, from a practical perspective aesthetics still should be considered due to its positive effects on subjective perceptions of users, even as no substantial effects on user performance occurred in the present experiment.
Meinald Thielsch
added a research item
Zusammenfassung Inhalte sind zentral im Internet-und damit auch deren Wahrnehmung und Bewertung durch die Nutzer-Innen. Der hier vorgestellte Web-CLIC-Fragebogen erfasst zentrale Facetten dieser Inhaltswahrneh-mung. In einer Übersicht wird die Konstruktion und Validierung des Fragebogens basierend auf einer Serie von sieben Studien mit insgesamt n = 7379 Bewertungen von m = 120 Websites dargestellt.
Meinald Thielsch
added a research item
The present paper addresses a need for a brief assessment instrument to measure perceived visual aesthetics of websites. A short version of the Visual Aesthetics of Websites inventory (VisAWI; Moshagen and Thielsch 201017. Moshagen, M., Thielsch, M. T., 2010. Facets of visual aesthetics. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 68, 689–709. doi: 10.1016/j.ijhcs.2010.05.006[CrossRef], [Web of Science ®]View all references) called VisAWI-S was developed and evaluated in three studies comprising 1673 participants in total. The results indicate that the VisAWI-S is a reliable measure that captures a single dimension of perceived visual aesthetics and provides a good approximation to the full-length version. Convergent validity was established by a strong relationship to overall appeal. Evidence for divergent validity was obtained by weaker correlations to perceived usability, pragmatic quality and quality of content as well as by absence of a significant correlation to participants’ mood. In addition to this, the VisAWI-S was found to be substantially related to the intention to revisit a website. Overall, the results indicate that the VisAWI-S may gainfully be employed to measure perceived visual aesthetics of websites when assessment times must be kept to a minimum.
Meinald Thielsch
added 7 research items
Today, the World Wide Web is an essential communication- and marketing channel. In em-pirical analyses of user experience, visual aesthetics represents an important factor. Visual aesthetics of websites can be defined as an immediate pleasurable subjective experience that is directed toward an object and not mediated by intervening reasoning (Moshagen & Thielsch, 2010). Aesthetics provide satisfaction and pleasure – based on the work of Fech-ner (1876), classical aesthetics research refers to „subjective pleasure“. Aesthetics not only fulfils the user’s basic needs and can be a unique feature (see Thielsch, 2008, p. 36f. for an overview). Aesthetics further influences numerous factors and constructs, such as a user’s first impression (cf. Lindgaard et al., 2006; Thielsch & Hirschfeld, 2012; Tuch et al., 2012), usability (Lee & Koubek, 2012; Moshagen, Musch, & Göritz, 2009; Sonderegger & Sauer, 2010), satisfaction (Cyr, Kindra & Dash, 2008; Lindgaard & Dudek, 2003), disposition to buy (Parboteeah, Valacich & Wells, 2009; Porat & Tractinsky, 2012) or intentions to revisit or recommend (Mahlke, 2002; Thielsch, Blotenberg & Jaron, 2014; Yoo & Donthu, 2001). Accordingly, the adequate assessment of the aesthetic experience is of prime importance. In the majority of cases, the users are asked about their subjective rating. Other methods such as paired comparisons, checklist evaluations or cognitive walkthroughs are equally possible, but hitherto sparsely documented (see Thielsch, 2008, p. 53). Questionnaires are a popular method, easily implemented and consequently prevalent. However, judgements based on a single item (e.g. „how beautiful is this website?“) can be distorted by measurement errors or response biases (see Schmidt & Hunter, 1996). It is therefore advantageous to ask several questions about aesthetics in form of a standardized questionnaire. However, the few existing aesthetics questionnaires are yet partly developed scales for par-ticular analyses, whose validities have not been verified and are thus questionable (Bargas-Avila et al., 2011). The instrument developed by Lavie and Tractinsky (2004) as well as the VisAWI (Visual Aesthetics of Websites Inventory; Moshagen & Thielsch, 2010 & 2013) con-stitute the exceptions. While the questionnaire of Lavie and Tractinsky (2004) comprises two factors, classic and expressive visual aesthetics, the VisAWI complements this model by assuming four facets: Simplicity, Diversity, Colorfulness and Craftsmanship. Additionally, a shortened version of the VisAWI, the VisAWI-S, was created. Having four items, it measures solely a general aesthetics factor.
HCI research has acknowledged the importance of aesthetics for user interfaces by examining its effects on users' attitudes and reactions. However, evidence for effects on task performance is mixed. By manipulating chat background colour in a within-subjects design, this study investigates the effects of a less attractive vs. attractive chat interface in a collaborative setting. Participants performed the simulated role of a nurse, a doctor, laboratory technician, or specialist as a member of an emergency response team that had to diagnose patients within a given time. The data of 184 participants during three rounds of the same task was analysed for effects of the colour manipulation on emotion, affect, and team performance. Chat background colour was randomly varied in round 2 and 3. Although participants clearly preferred the attractive to the less attractive version, analyses of variance revealed that neither their attitudes nor their performance as a group was significantly influenced by the colour manipulation. We discuss (1) further analyses on the individual level and qualitative analyses of the chat protocols, (2) possible explanations such as the performance criterion, nature of the task, and aesthetics manipulation, and (3) future directions for research on the link between aesthetics and performance .
The current study investigates how different types of company website designs influence first impressions, aesthetic evaluations and memory performance. We implemented an online study with a between-subjects design to examine differences between three design categories identified by ten experts in a pretest: strong colours of one colour family (SCOFA), large pictures (LAPIC) and same amount of pictures and text (SAPAT). The data of 458 participants (52.2% female) reveal that (i) after an exposure time of 5 s, response times for website-related attributes differ between the categories, (ii) LAPIC and SAPAT are perceived as more aesthetic than SCOFA and (iii) memory performance is best on SAPAT sites. These results underline the importance of first impressions of a site's appearance and provide practical guidance for web designers by showing what users associate with certain designs, which designs they prefer, and which sites are the most memorable.
Meinald Thielsch
added a research item
Das World Wide Web ist heutzutage ein zentraler Kommunikations- und Marketingkanal. Bei der empirischen Analyse von User Experience im Web hat sich visuelle Ästhetik als bedeu-tender Faktor gezeigt. Website-Ästhetik kann als unmittelbare angenehme subjektive Wahr-nehmung des Webobjekts definiert werden, die wenig durch schlussfolgernde Prozesse be-einflusst wird (Moshagen & Thielsch, 2010). Ästhetik bereitet Freude – die klassische Ästhe-tikforschung spricht hier basierend auf den Arbeiten von Fechner (1876) von einem „subjek-tivem Wohlgefallen“. Ästhetik erfüllt nicht nur wichtige Grundbedürfnisse eines Nutzers und kann ein Alleinstel-lungsmerkmal sein (zur Übersicht siehe Thielsch, 2008, S. 36f.). Ästhetik beeinflusst auch eine Vielzahl von weiteren Faktoren und Konstrukten wie den Ersteindruck eines Nutzers (vgl. Lindgaard et al., 2006; Thielsch & Hirschfeld, 2012; Tuch et al., 2012), Usability (Lee & Koubek, 2012; Moshagen, Musch, & Göritz, 2009; Sonderegger & Sauer, 2010), Zufrieden-heit (Cyr, Kindra & Dash, 2008; Lindgaard & Dudek, 2003), Kaufbereitschaft (Parboteeah, Valacich & Wells, 2009; Porat & Tractinsky, 2012) oder Wiederbesuchs- und Weiterempfeh-lungsbereitschaft (Mahlke, 2002; Thielsch, Blotenberg & Jaron, 2014; Yoo & Donthu, 2001). Dementsprechend wichtig ist, dass die erlebte Ästhetik adäquat erfasst wird. Hierzu werden meistens die Nutzer nach ihren subjektiven Urteilen gefragt. Andere Methoden wie bei-spielsweise Paarvergleiche, Checklisten-Evaluationen, oder Cognitive Walkthroughs sind ebenso möglich, aber bisher nur an wenigen Stellen dokumentiert (siehe Thielsch, 2008, S. 53). Fragebogenmethoden sind beliebt, vergleichsweise leicht umzusetzen und entspre-chend verbreitet. Bewertungen anhand von nur einer einzelnen Frage (bspw. „Wie schön ist die Website?“) können allerdings durch Messfehler und Antwortverzerrungen verfälscht sein (siehe Schmidt & Hunter, 1996). Daher ist es von Vorteil, mehrere Fragen zur Ästhetik in Form einer Skala oder eines standardisierten Fragebogens zu stellen. Die vergleichsweise wenigen existierenden Ästhetik-Fragebögen sind jedoch zum Teil ad hoc für eine einzelne Untersuchung gebildete Skalen, deren Validität nicht geprüft wurde und damit fraglich ist (Bargas-Avila et al., 2011). Ausnahmen stellen das von Lavie und Trac-tinsky (2004) entwickelte Instrument sowie der VisAWI (Visual Aesthetics of Websites Inven-tory; Moshagen & Thielsch, 2010 & 2013) dar. Während der Fragebogen von Lavie und Tractinsky (2004) zwei Faktoren, klassische und expressive visuelle Ästhetik annimmt, er-gänzt der VisAWI dieses Modell und geht von vier Facetten aus: Einfachheit, Vielfalt, Farbig-keit und Kunstfertigkeit. Zusätzlich wurde eine Kurzversion des VisAWI, der VisAWI-S, geschaffen. Er erfasst mit seinen vier Items lediglich einen generellen Ästhetik-Faktor.
Gerrit Hirschfeld
added a project goal
Understanding what drives web-users' perceptions of aesthetics, usability and content.