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Localization of design: the effects of country specific graphical web design elements on the evaluation of homepages

Mountassir, Yassine (2012) Localization of design: the effects of country specific graphical web design elements on the evaluation of homepages.

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Abstract:Purpose: In today’s ever expanding digital world which knows no regional boundaries or time constraints, web designer have the difficult task to provide us with websites that need to be efficient and effective in this global environment. For web designers, coping with this challenge has put forward the dilemma of either standardizing or localizing web sites. Previous studies have shown that local customs in web design exist. However no systematic study has been done on the effects of these local designs on user preference. This study therefore investigates the effect of country specific graphical web design elements on the user’s evaluation of homepages. Method: Two studies were conducted to answer whether local design had an influence on the evaluation of homepages. First, a content analysis of in total 90 websites, from three countries (South-Korea, The Netherlands, and The United States) and within three domains (news, education, and government), was conducted to explore differences in the use of graphical web design elements. Second, a user experiment was conducted to explore the effects of the country specific graphical web design elements found in the content analysis. In total 65 Western European participants evaluated ten stimuli of which nine either resembled Korean, Dutch or American design. The evaluation consisted of a questionnaire on the visual appeal, perceived ease of use, and familiarity of the homepages and a plus-minus usability study with concurrent think aloud protocol. Result: In the comparative content analysis, twelve out of the twenty-two graphical design elements were statistically different. Which indicate there are differences in the design of websites between the three countries used. These differences were incorporated in the stimuli used in the second study. The findings of the second study show that country specific graphical web design elements have an influence on the evaluation of homepages. The Western European participants evaluated the American homepages as statistically more appealing and perceived them as easier to use than both the Dutch and Korean homepages. Furthermore, the Dutch homepages were perceived as statistically easier to use than the Korean homepages. Last, both the Dutch as well as the American homepages were evaluated to be statistically more familiar that the Korean homepages. Additionally, a high correlation was found between all three determinants of the user evaluation. The data of the plus minus usability study showed that less interesting and homepages with fewer images were appreciated less, and also that color vibrancy plays an important role in the appreciation of a website. Conclusions: There is an effect of country specific web design on the evaluation of users. Western users note a difference in the design of Eastern and Western design and are more appreciative of designs that mimic western standards. Therefore, web site designers can increase the visual appeal and perceived ease of use by using the appropriate set of country specific graphical web design elements. This study therefore supports the claim that localizing website is a good strategy to cope with the challenge of building efficient and effective websites.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/62214
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