A hedonic model for effective web marketing: an empirical examination

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A hedonic model for effective
web marketing: an empirical
examination
Philip M. Tsang
A hedonic model
for effective web
marketing
1039
Electronics and Communications Technology Programme,
The Open University of Hong Kong, Kowloon, Hong Kong,
People’s Republic of China, and
Sandy Tse
Winner Trading, Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China
Abstract
Purpose – To identify the relative effects of three features of response toward web interface (RWI) on
their advertising promotion effectiveness as measured by the number of accesses to various web
pages.
Design/methodology/approach – A factorial design experiment was conducted on the internet to
empirically test the hedonic stimulation web interface model developed by the authors.
Findings – The results reveal that there are three main effects and two two-variable interactions
which are found to be significant. In respect to our hedonic stimulation web interface design model
(HSWIDM). No three variables of the hedonic salience interact simultaneously.
Research limitations/implications – Among the potential limitations of this research is the main
effect of colour in the design of the experiment. The other potential limitation is related to the broad
assumption of subjects selected.
Practical implications – In operational terms, the major finding regarding the key aim of this
research is that all three hedonic salience variables have a main effect and lead to a hedonic valance.
Originality/value – The research adds to the body of literature and knowledge focusing on
quantitative internet research and analysis of data using a practical factorial design and analysis
method as exemplified in the use of Yates’ forward analysis of factorial experiment.
Keywords Internet, Consumer behaviour, User interfaces
Paper type Research paper
Introduction
The last decade has seen breathtaking changes in the ways business is conducted. The
key driving force is globalisation, which is facilitated by the rapid development of the
internet and mobile technologies. The impact of the internet on business practices is
manifold. Value creation is increasingly based on the creative and innovative use of
information and communications technologies.
Many professors and friends had contributed to the ideas and design methodology used in this
research. Specific thanks must go to the following professors and experts including Professor
David Corkindale of University of South Australia, Professor M. Berger of MIT’s Experimental
Design Program, Professor Don Scott of University of New England, Professor Kevin Cox of City
University of Hong Kong, Professor KY Tam of HKUST, Professor Kai Koong of University of
Texas, and Professor Philip Gendall of Massey University.
Industrial Management & Data
Systems
Vol. 105 No. 8, 2005
pp. 1039-1052
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
0263-5577
DOI 10.1108/02635570510624437
IMDS
105,8
1040
The internet has three major functions:
(1) as a means of communication, for example, through e-mail, mailing lists, ICQ
and the like;
(2) as a means of obtaining information, such as online databases, electronic
libraries, search engines, the world wide web; and
(3) as content itself.
It is widely recognised that we have entered into what is known as the information age.
Information technology (IT) has impacted upon three key areas: the compression of
time, overcoming geography and the restructuring of relationships. For many
businesses, these ideas have meant increasing the use of new marketing and
advertising techniques for the global market (Koh and Tam, 2005; Humphreys et al.,
2005; Lin et al., 2005; Rahman, 2004; Scornavacca et al., 2004). The internet world is
focusing on using the web for various applications including marketing and
advertising (Newman et al., 2004). What makes a viewer attracted to a web page and
then interact with the page is an area of much research. However, the focus of this
research was on a specific area of web page interface design as exemplified via a
real-life promotion campaign conducted recently for a mobile communications
conference, the Asia Pacific Mobile Communications Symposium.
A great deal of advertising is “designed” to move people up the final steps toward
purchase. Jones (1995) concludes that “advertising is capable of a sharp immediate
effect on sales: in direct contradiction to Ehrenberg’s doctrine that advertising’s
short-term effect is solely to increase brand awareness”.
Thus it is argued that a strategy for marketing information on the web should be
based on its “design capability” to attract people to stay and participate. Typical user
response process is related to the mental state of an individual’s awareness level. The
response process itself is believed to be influenced by the effect of sensational
stimulation. It is hypothesised in this study that visually distinct design and different
design features will have influence upon online advertising effects. Visual features in
combination with animated design effects will be tested for their influence on user
response.
Research objective
The objective of this study was to examine the effects of some web page design factors
on raising the response to information/product being promoted on a web page. This
objective was pursued by studying the effect of visual design stimuli in raising
response to information/product being promoted on the web.
This research makes several contributions to the body of knowledge on internet
advertising to further the understanding of electronic-advertising and consumer
behaviour. The findings from the study will be of interest to researchers, advertisers,
managers and web designers who wish to design an effective web page. This research
paper also reports on innovative experimental design methodology in collecting data
by using the latest internet technology. Contributions made by this research study
include:
.
Providing an experimental approach to using a web-based environment to test
research hypotheses.
.
.
.
.
Reporting the effectiveness of visual enhancement variable combinations for web
interface design with selected features: graphics, colours, text and animated images.
Reporting the experimental stage of a real case study about the non-commercial
organisation, the Asia Pacific Mobile Conference, organised by the HK Institute
of Engineers.
Introducing a new experimental design methodology for internet-based
marketing research.
Introducing tools previously not known to traditional marketing researchers.
These tools include automatic e-mail capture JavaScript, web access log analysis,
Yates factorial design and analysis.
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This research approach aims to contribute to the literature on web graphic design
effectiveness for online advertising. Most traditional advertising research (Miller, 1990;
Ruth, 1991; Mundorf et al., 1993; Malaviya et al., 1996; James and Alman 1996;
Sengupta et al., 1997; McDaniel, 1998); or even recent internet advertising research
(Newman et al., 2004) are more often than not studies commonly conducted in
simulated or “laboratory” conditions, very often recruiting students as their subjects.
However, this study (as part of a series of Internet Special Project Group (ISPG)[1]
projects) deploys a systematically factorial design methodology on a real promotional
campaign, the Asia Pacific Mobile Conference, to investigate and examine the
effectiveness of various visual effects on web visitors’ responses.
How advertising works
Vakratsa and Ambler (1999) (henceforth referred to as V&A) conducted an extensive
literature review of over 250 journals and books to establish a framework for studying
how advertising affects consumers and how it works. They formulated their studies
based on Figure 1.
Figure 1.
V&A’s advertising study
framework
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The starting point is advertising as an input for the consumer. Message content,
scheduling and frequency are elements of this input box and constitute the advertising
strategy that triggers a consumer’s response. This first part of the model treats the
human mind as a “Black Box”. It considers only input and behaviour changes, not the
thinking, feeling and experience memory effects.
The second layer of the model is the filter layer. Individuals who are exposed to an
advertisement may simply read on, click on, back-off, skip or act on the advertisement.
But these decisions are mediated by factors such as motivation and the ability to
process information and attitudes towards the advertisement. The third layer refers to
the intermediate type of response underlining the fact that consciously or
unconsciously, advertising must have some mental effect (e.g. awareness, memory,
attitude) toward the brand before it can affect behaviour. Cognition, the learning and
thinking dimension of a person’s response, and affect, the feeling and attitudinal
component, together with an individual’s past experiences constitute the elements of
the layer of advertising effect. These elements are concerned with changes in consumer
behaviour such as choosing a product, clicking on a web link, etc.
In a sense, consumer-oriented network navigation must focus user attention on
human-computer interaction, narrowing the focus of awareness so that irrelevant
perceptions and thoughts are filtered out. Individuals must perceive a balance between
their experiences and the challenges of the interaction. The key consequences of the
sequence experience for consumers are increased from learning, exploratory and
participatory behaviours, positive subjective experiences, and a perceived sense of the
entirety on the interactions.
Web marketing is a new form of “non-intrusive” advertising, in which the customer
actively chooses to visit and interact with the company’s marketing communication
efforts. Recent efforts involve the merging of information and images in innovative
ways. Measures of the duration of time spent at a web site, depth of search through the
site, navigation patterns through the site, and repeat visits to the site are crucial
outcome measures for evaluating the effectiveness of such a site.
Hedonic perspective
In measurement of behaviour, many studies measured customer choice, the
behavioural study with which we too are most concerned. Few of the studies we
read correlate with the hedonic perspective. Many are based on valuation. The
valuation is defined as a critical issue choice and attitude formation and products are
presented as “objective” entities.
Hirschman and Holbrook (1991) stress the hedonic perspective seeks not to replace
traditional theories of consumption but rather extends and enhances their
applicability. She uses a hedonic consumption perspective, where products are
viewed not as objective entities but rather as “subjective” symbols. Such a perspective
basically defines hedonic consumption as those facets of consumer behaviour, linked to
various consumption processes.
Mundorf et al. (1993) conducted an experimental study of components of
information services in which music and colour were found to affect levels of
enjoyment and intention to use screen-based information services. These findings
provide some basic design guidelines for information services designers and marketers
and point to the need for future exploration of this area. Mowen and Mowen (1991)
report the use of the hedonic concept as one of the key strategies to enhance client-user
attention.
Most of the literature is more directly concerned with the stimulus-hedonic effects of
the feature variables of product design on consumption attitudes, rather than drawing
from decision-making behaviour theory itself. However, all the research findings that
we came across only provide basic design guidelines and experiments for the design of
future research-based explorations in this area. These studies did not draw upon the
multi-media and web technology design aspects of behavioural theory. No reported
research has been found on the effect of web-based information services and simulated
experiences on the variations of hedonic design.
Hedonic aspect on web interface design
Much of the earlier web interface design resources can be traced back to the
proceedings of the International Wide World Web Conference series that started in
early 1994. The second author was among the very first females to have actively
participated in the well-known International conferences. Indeed, she was the
webmaster of the First Asia-Pacific Web Conference (part of the International www
conference). Founding www interfaces articles such as Nielsen and Sano’s (1994) Sun
Web: User Interface Design for Sun Microsystem’s Internal Web, Regiser and Gerone’s
(1994) Interfaces for Public Information and Scientific Research, and Ball’s (1995) New
Approaches to Custom WWW Interface all appeared in the proceedings of the web
conferences of which the authors were either editors or program committee members.
In Nielsen (1994), Jackob Nielsen presents the methods used to design the user interface
and overall structure of the internal web pages for Sun Microsystems. Admittedly,
Nielsen reported that much of the user interface work was done in a few weeks with
four usability studies completed in a single week. The conclusions from that project are
that a uniform user interface structure can make a web significantly easier to use and
that “discount usability engineering” can be employed to base the design on user
studies even when project schedules are very tight. Nielsen has subsequently
published more web interface related work under the banner of usability. Among the
most famous is the “Top Ten” Common Mistakes in web design. (“Top Ten Mistakes”
Revisited Three Years Later, www.useit.com/alertbox/990502.html).
In most of the computer interface literature, a graphical user interface is considered
a key element in designing good screens. With advancements in technology, many
barriers to good screen designs have been eliminated. A variety of new displays and
interaction techniques have been introduced in many user interface packages.
Given the variation in the use of web browsers, network connections and computer
platforms, some design features may be visible on one browser but not on the other.
Also, many users may still be using a slow dial-up line. Further, if a web page includes
too many detailed graphics, it will take a long time to download and this will turn away
the user. All these factors will influence the web page design and the presentation
capacity. Therefore, this research will only investigate the hedonic impact on
stimulus-response theory.
Hedonics impact on stimulus-response theory
The theoretical framework used in this research is that stimulus of a hedonic
design variable has influence on a user’s response toward the information service.
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The theoretical base is related to decision response processes. It is the hedonic
stimulation of the response process of pleasantness toward the advertising product or
information that is of interest in this study. The theoretical framework is that exposure
to stimulus and the subsequent response is desired for effective web page design for
marketing information.
It is important to be concerned about how client-users are able to perceive a message
to convert it and so define it effectively. This calls for theoretical searches on mental
processes of “hedonic salience” and product design of “hedonic valence”. The
theoretical framework used in this research is the hedonic design variable that
influences client-user response.
The awareness of hedonic benefits
The differentiation of input on the web page design is the stimulative function of
enhancing. In other words, this process in itself can stimulate the client-user into
weighing and selecting the best alternative. The different weight attached to different
stages is dependent upon variations in web interface design and client-user internal
process characteristics. The internal processes can be viewed as consequences that are
caused by something else, or as antecedents that cause something else. They are
present as a result of the stimulus situation toward the client-user’s response. A given
internal process as a consequence treats it as a dependent variable that is influenced by
some independent variable. This refers to the use of design differences to observe
client-user behaviour and predict the level of web page design effectiveness.
Client-users that are especially likely to participate in a particular internal process may
be more receptive to certain types of design effects on the promoting message on the
web page (Figure 2). Then, the hedonic benefits can motivate or drive client-user needs
and influence their participation or purchase decisions. It is assumed that the stronger
this drive, the greater the perceived urgency of response.
The process of this hedonic benefit gained from stimulus-response can be defined as
the scientific study of the enhancing process of the decision behaviour model. There are
various ways in which decision process models may be used to specify
stimulus-response. The incentive response is based on “decision making” from the
output and influenced by the animated images drawn up from the input (Figure 3).
Hedonic salience
Client-users’ motivations to visit a web site are effected by the states of their enjoyment
processes which include the actual state (as); the desired state (ds); and the preferred
state ( ps). Howard (1995) believes the stimulus display conveys the notion that the
customer will selectively pay attention. Stimulus display essentially combines three
basic ideas: incitement, external agent and relation to sensory process. There are
“mechanisms (e.g. design strategy) which enable organisms (e.g. client-user’s decision
processes) to respond selectively to important features of their environments while
ignoring features which are of little or no importance”.
Figure 2.
Hedonic design effects on
client-user decision
processes
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Figure 3.
A hedonic stimulation web
interface design model
(HSWIDM)
The hypothetical constructs are affected by numerous stimuli from the client-user’s
behaviour. The stimuli can be expressed in the form of some graphic representations.
The words, sentences disseminated by the designer, necessarily involve thinking,
whereas the significative need not imply thinking, such as a pictorial (graphic or
image). The symbolic variables that link the hypothetical constructs to the output side
of the theory are mental states which include awareness, attitude, attention, intention,
and participation. These experiential feelings derive from pleasantness.
Animated images
It has been suggested that the response rate will increase if the web page is more
animation orientated.
If the web page contains a graphic, and, furthermore, that the more distinctive an animated
design, the stronger this effect is likely to be.
This study is designed to compare visitors’ responses toward different web page
designs, varying in terms of design complexity and the presence or absence of
animated images.
Graphics
Dillman (1978) suggests that prominent graphic designs encourage the response rate.
This view is supported by Jenkins and Ciochetto (1993) in a small exploratory study
from which they conclude that subjects were overwhelmingly drawn to a background
containing a graphic.
Colour
A study by Nederhof (1988) also found that a questionnaire with a largely black
contrastive background yielded an 11 per cent higher response rate than the same
background design that was white spaced and hardly contrastive. Nederhof’s
explanation for this result is that because the black background was more distinctive
and visually complex it was more memorable.
Hence the longer-term cognitive accessibility of the animation enhanced on colour or graphic.
This will increase the likelihood and chance that people will stop and read the web page
information and fill in their express of interest or participation.
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The significance of this enhanced cognitive accessibility was demonstrated by the fact
that the animation enhancement will perform as an important hedonic perspective in
designing an effective user interface for marketing information. Thus it appears that
the participation rate will be enhanced if the web page contains an animated graphic
and colour, thus becoming a more distinctive design factor.
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Hedonic valence
Awareness of client-user attitudes is the last stage of actual state (as) concern.
Client-users’ attitudes toward web page X and Y with absence/presence of the hedonic
elements are thus the function of relatively important attributes. The effect of a web
page’s design style, graphics, colours, attractive visual image, retention and users’
assessments are considered in terms of these attributes. A client-user may consider a
simple style and an attractive image to be extremely important while attaching less
importance to complex style. A client-user may evaluate a web page as very good
because a simple and attractive image gives a favourable attitude toward the promoted
information. Another client-user may consider text complexity to be the most
important attribute in a web page. If a user evaluates web pages as being low on this
attribute relative to other web pages, that person’s attitude toward the web design will
tend to be less favourable.
The physical measures of the complexity of the variables of colours, text, graphics
and images should have an effective role to play in web interface design. In this report,
the experiment places emphasis on using animated images and measuring their effects
on colour, text and graphic designs to investigate which design role is the most
effective. It is believed that these variables (i.e. colours, text, graphics and images)
combined with animated images will have a great influence on yielding a hedonic
response from a client-user to induce attention to a message. The influence of hedonic
design variables to affect a client-user’s memory is the recognition and stimulation of
an image in the mind associated with the thinking and communicating about the
promoted message on the page. These design variables are essential if the hedonic
valence concept is to be useful to marketers for measuring similarities among objects in
the client-user’s mind.
Effectiveness
In this research, web page design is effective if it leads the user to respond
immediately. The user will further click on the promotion pages if attracted by such
pages. The deeper into a page the user accesses, it will be deemed that the more
effective is the page.
Define the experimental hedonic design
It is defined by this research study that hedonic design is moving animate graphics or
text that attract users’ attention. The independent variable is the type of web design.
The experimental group is the hedonic design web page that will combine with the
animated images, while the control group is formed by the usual and same text and
graphics combination without animated images.
The variables in this experimental study are colour, text, and graphics, with or
without animated images. As such there are eight web page designs that incorporate
various combinations of these variables.
A model of web interface promotion
As revealed in the previous literature review, three RWI attributes were identified as
dependent variables for this research. The major aim of this study is to identify the
relative effects of these three different features of RWI – namely animated colour
background, animated graphics and animated text – on their advertising promotion
effectiveness as measured by the number of accesses to various web pages.
The following paragraph outlines the variables, including a definition of each of
them. It also shows how they, and their combinations, relate to the dependent
variables. Mathematically, one can express the model of the experiment as:
Hypotheses, dependent variable and independent variables
The major goal of this research is to identify the relative effect of three web page
design attributes on their appeal to a conference promotion web site. These attributes
are colour, graphics and text with or without animation.
Hypotheses
To many researchers who are used to one-way experimental design, they will be glad
to learn that factorial experimental design lends itself to a number of standard
hypotheses. These are due to the fact that in the null hypotheses, the assumption is that
the variation in independent does not make a difference. These research hypotheses
can be ground into generic sets Tsang (2005):
H1. The means of the respective treatments are equal.
H2. All population interactions for various combinations of treatments are equal
to zero.
Translating these generic factorial hypotheses to this experiment, the sets of
hypotheses go like these:
H1-1. There is no difference on the web interface effectiveness whether an animated
or non-animated graphic is used.
H1-2. There is no difference on the web interface effectiveness whether animated or
non-animated colour is used.
H1-3. There is no difference on the web interface effectiveness whether animated or
non-animated text is used.
H2-1. There is no interaction between the Colour background and Graphic
treatments.
H2-2. There is no interaction between the Colour background and Text treatments.
H2-3. There is no interaction between the Graphic and Text treatments.
H2-4. There is no interaction between the Colour background, Graphic and Text
treatments.
Methodology
An innovative, but to a certain extent not uncontroversial internet web interface design
experiment was conducted recently. It used the – Pacific Mobile Communications
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Conference web interface as part of the research. The researcher acted as the
webmaster of the conference on a voluntary basis. The official conference site was then
hosted at one of the Communications Technology Programme Servers at the Open
University of Hong Kong. The experiment was conducted with the guidance of the
Programme Leader of the Communications Technology Programme and the
Publication Chair of the Second Asia – Pacific Mobile Communications Conference
(APMobCom).
In the experiment the effects of the eight factorially varied treatments of web page
design were recorded. In short, a real-life experiment was carried out to measure the
responses to eight different web interface designs associated with the promotion of a
mobile communications conference.
Populations
Internet users who were possibly interested in attending or learning more about the
latest information on mobile communications events were the potential market
population. The population targeted were those internet users who subscribed to
internet mailing lists and who may be interested in mobile or modern communications
events. The sample population used for this experiment consisted of 31,358 internet
users whose e-mail addresses were obtained through publicly available mailing lists.
Subjects
A total of 8 £ 2; 560 subjects were randomly selected from the sample population.
Procedures
Phase 1: The design of the eight web pages which comprised animated graphics of the
eight treatments of the three independent variables.
Phase 2: Setting up the appropriate web servers and associated web-database.
Phase 3: The promotion of the web pages via e-mail promotion.
Phase 4: Capturing visitors’ access information.
Phase 5: Data analysis using factorial analysis method.
Results and findings
The findings are presented in the following sections:
.
response rate;
.
treatment web page access statistics; and
.
analysis of the completely randomised 2 £ 2 £ 2 experiments including testings
of main and interaction effects of the three hedonic salience variables.
How many responses?
Of the 20,480 ð2; 560 £ 8Þ short e-mail messages sent, 143 bounced back undelivered.
This represents a failure-to-delivery rate of 0.7 per cent. Such a number indicates that
the mailing lists subscribers’ information was current. The achievement of such a low
undelivered rate was also partly due to the strategy used to remove the first 100
subscribers from each mailing list before the randomisation process. This is a strategic
experimental decision as these mailing addresses belong to those subscribers who had
been on the lists for sometime and might either have moved on to other organisations
or were using other e-mail addresses.
Response rate
All together there were 249 “unique” accesses to the APMobCom official web page
(http://plbsun01.ouhk.edu.hk/apmobcom/) from the eight main web treatment pages.
The access distribution and associated statistics are shown in Table I. The web page
with the URL (in part) mg13.html, that is, the page with animated background colour,
generated the maximum amount of access to the APMobCom web page. The web page
with ID mg17 generated the minimum amount of access to the APMobCom web page.
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Results of significant testing of the variables
The overall null hypothesis for each treatment is evaluated at a ¼ 0:01; a ¼ 0:05 and
a ¼ 0:1 levels of significance. These are the most commonly used a values. The results
are summarised in Table II.
Conclusions
With respect to the aims of the research to investigate the selected visual features and
to see the ability to appeal to users’ responses and retain their attention using the
hedonic stimulation model, the results reveal that there are three main effects and two
two-variable interactions which are found to be significant at a 0.1 level.
Group ID
Group1
Group2
Group3
Group4
Group5
Group6
Group7
Group8
Treatment variables
C
C
C
C
AC
AC
AC
AC
G
G
AG
AG
G
G
AG
AG
From relevant URL
Unique accesses
*/mg21.html
*/mg11.html
*/mg12.html
*/mg14.html
*/mg13.html
*/mg15.html
*/mg16.html
*/mg17.html
T
AT
T
AT
T
AT
T
AT
35
36
37
29
43
29
31
9
249
Notes: *URL: http://ntx.city.unisa.edu.au:8888/apm/mobile; total unique accesses of APMobCom web
pages originating from the eight treatment pages
Yates standard order ID
[1]
A
B
Ab
C
Ac
Bc
Abc
Variables
C
C
C
C
aC
aC
aC
aC
G
G
aG
aG
G
G
aG
aG
T
aT
T
aT
T
aT
T
aT
jgj
At 0.01 If
jgj . 180.1
249
43
37
17
25
29
27
1
–
N
N
N
N
N
N
N
Table I.
APMobCom web
accesses re cords
originating from the eight
web treatment pages
Significant level
At 0.05 If
At 0.10 If
jgj . 35.9
jgj . 17.8
–
Y0.05
Y0.05
N
N
N
N
N
–
Y0.05
Y0.05
N
Y0.1
Y0.1
Y0.1
N
Notes: jgj values in the last column in Yates forward algorithm; Y0.05 significant at a ¼ 0.05;
Y0.1 significant at a ¼ 0.1
Table II.
Summary of results
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The three main effects are animated colour, animated text and animated graphics. The
two two-variable interactions found to be significant are “Animated Text and
Animated Colour” and “Animated Colour and Animated Graphics”.
In respect to our HSWIDM. No three variables of the hedonic salience interact
simultaneously. In operational terms, the major finding regarding the key aim of this
research is that all three hedonic salience variables have a main effect and lead to a
hedonic valance. These are exemplified by the top three accesses (43, 37 and 36,
respectively) of the APMobCom web page from the interface page with single hedonic
salience variable. As such the three variables can be used in web page design
independently.
Contributions
The research reported here makes a number of contributions to the body of knowledge.
In many marketing, advertising and end users experiments, students are often
recruited as subjects for the obvious reasons of convenience, cost and control. In cases
where non-students are used as subjects, many of those experiments are often
conducted in a confined or stimulated lab environment. Controlled experimental
studies are effective for narrow issues, but field studies and data logging, as
exemplified in this research, are attractive alternative research methods on the web.
While using the internet itself as an experiment domain is not new, one contribution of
this research is that it provides a systematic, multi-disciplinary approach (as it
demands a mix of advertising, web and computer programming techniques) and
strategy in conducting internet research. With due regard to Nielsen (1995) and
Schneiderman (1998) who have come to be regarded as web gurus in the field, one of
authors of this paper believes she is among the very first (if not the first) in conducting
such systematic web interface internet research despite reporting her data much later.
Another contribution of this research is that it builds on the traditional wisdoms of
past researchers and theories in cognitive and perceptual theories and extends that
work into the new medium of internet marketing as exemplified in the form of web
interface design.
Limitations of this research
Among the potential limitations of this research is the main effect of colour in the
design of the experiment. While the present research data supports the other two
hedonic salience variables (animated text and animated graphics) as significant at the
0.05 level, it only supports the main effect of animated colour at 0.1 level. While
American behavourial researchers have an informal agreement to regard as
“statistically significant” t values (and other tests of significance) with associated p
levels of 0.05 or less, the model utilized by this researcher does not fit well into such
traditional analysis. As the experimental data only support the main effects of
animated text and animated graphics at the 0.05 level, a potential limitation with which
readers may challenge this research is to include the animated colour effect as also
being effective in web interface design.
The research also adds to the body of literature and knowledge focusing on
quantitative internet research and analysis of data using a practical factorial design
and analysis method as exemplified in the use of Yates’ forward analysis of factorial
experiments.
Another potential, but arguable, limitation of this research is that all the animation
was done using “animated gif” technology which inherently led to bigger image-file
sizes and a comparatively slower download time for readers. This is particularly the
case on pages where all three hedonic salience variables were deployed. The
technology used might have tempered part of the experiment’s results but again, it was
a technology that was utilized in all the popular web browser’s circulating at the period
of experiment.
The other potential limitation is related to the broad assumption of subjects
selected. As in most internet research, researchers have assumed broad communities
and the usually implicit assumption about users as being able to see and read English.
Website designs should be more effective when directed to specific audience niches but
this information is not typically available. Gender, age, economic status, ethnic origin,
educational background and language are primary audience attributes. Physical
disabilities such as poor vision call for special designs. However, such potential
problems associated with such subjects cannot be avoided and have to be accepted as
necessary limitations in this type of research.
Note
1. The Internet Special Projects Group (ISPG) was formally established in March 1994 by Dr
Philip Tsang, Sandy Tse, Geoff Fellows and Ken Eustace. Internet programming, services
and R&D projects are initiated by the group. Group members come together to do special
projects on the internet. Available at: www.csu.edu.au/research/ispg/.
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A hedonic model
for effective web
marketing
1051
IMDS
105,8
1052
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Further reading
Cao, M., Zhang, Q. and Seydel, J. (2005), “B2C e-commerce web site quality: an empirical
examination”, Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. 105 No. 1, pp. 645-61.
Hsu, M., Chiu, C. and Ju, T. (2004), “Determinants of continued use of the www: an integration of
two theoretical models”, Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. 104 No. 9,
pp. 766-75.
Kuo, H., Hwang, S. and Wang, M. (2004), “Evaluation research of information and supporting
interface in electronic commerce web sites”, Industrial Management & Data Systems,
Vol. 104 No. 9, pp. 712-21.
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