What Students Look at to Judge the Aesthetics of Webpages

Grzybowski, Madeleine Worrell, Tanya Tepatti, and Harold H Greene

The aesthetics of a webpage can influence its usability, and memorability.  Hence attention to aesthetics is an important aspect of designing webpages.  Do students attend more to photographs than text information when they rate the appeal of university webpages? Volunteers viewed webpages from four colleges and rated their appeal on a 5-point Likert scale. Eye movement heat maps showed that photographs, text, and link-word panels attracted the most attention. We studied the two pages with significantly different ratings further to quantify the behavior. Analyses: 2 Webpages X 3 Interest Areas (Link-word panel vs Photograph vs Text) repeated measures ANOVA on eye dwell time/pixel area. For the full trial period (i.e., 15s) there was no significant effect (p> .05). For early attention deployment (i.e. early 5s period), there was a main effect of Interest Area. Post hoc tests revealed a lower dwell time/pixel area on link-word panels than photographs and text information (p < .05). The results contribute to our long-term goal of clarifying what kinds of webpage configurations influence webpage appeal.