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Webpage aesthetics, performance and usability: Design variables and their effects

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The primary objectives of this research are to identify the underlying clusters of design variables affecting the perceived usability of a webpage and to examine the effects of webpage design variables on webpage performance. Fifty-seven design variables and 10 underlying clusters that conceptualise the structure of user webpage judgement are identified through content analysis on literature and structured interviews, balanced incomplete block user survey administration and cluster analysis. Five clusters are selected to conduct three experiments that quantify the change in user aesthetic preference, perceived ease of interaction and interaction speed as a function of loading speed, image colour, image size, font size, link style, and column width. Results show that user performance alone is not a good indicator of aesthetic judgement and overall effectiveness of a webpage. The value of integrating global construct analysis processes and local controlled experimentation processes in ergonomic interface research is illustrated. Fifty-seven webpage design variables are defined, ranked and clustered according to perceived importance and overall preference. Experimental results illustrate that both technical performance and aesthetic factors are important webpage design considerations.
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Keywords: human performance; webpage aesthetics; webpage performance; webpage usability

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Industrial and Operations Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA 2: Marsh Inc., Saint Louis, MO, USA

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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