A Task-Based Model of Perceived Website Complexity

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In this study, we propose that perceived website complexity (PWC) is central to understanding how sophisticated features of a website (such as animation, audio, video, and rollover effects) affect a visitor’s experience at the site. Although previous research suggests that several elements of perceived complexity (e.g., amount of text, animation, graphics, range and consistency of web pages configuring a website, ease of navigating through it, and clarity of hyperlinks) affect important user outcomes, conflicting results yielded by previous research have created an important debate: does complexity enhance or inhibit user experience at a website. In this study, we draw on the task complexity literature to develop a broad and holistic model that examines the antecedents and consequences of PWC. Our results provide two important insights into the relationship between PWC and user outcomes. First, the positive relationship between objective complexity and PWC was moderated by user familiarity. Second, online task goals (goal-directed search and experiential browsing) moderated the relationship between PWC and user satisfaction. Specifically, the relationship between PWC and user satisfaction was negative for goal-directed users and inverted-U for experiential users. The implications of this finding for the practice of website design are discussed.
Additional Details
Author Sucheta Nadkarni and Reetika Gupta
Year 2007
Volume 31
Issue 3
Keywords Perceived website complexity, user perception, website usability
Page Numbers 501-524
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