The experiment used five versions of an online site made for this study.

The experiment used five versions of an online site made for this study.


The participants were 51 experienced internet users recruited by Sun (average quantity of Web experience was 24 months). Participants ranged in age from 22-69 (average age was 41). So as to give attention to “normal users,” we excluded the professions that are following the study: webmasters, Web designers, graphic designers, graphical user interface professionals, writers, editors, computer scientists, and computer programmers.

We checked for ramifications of age and Web experience regarding the dependent variables mentioned in the first five hypotheses, but we found only differences-none significant that is negligible. Had the websites within our study been more difficult to navigate or had our tasks necessitated use of search engines or other Web infrastructure, we might have expected significant outcomes of both age and Web experience.

The experiment employed a 5-condition (promotional control, scannable, concise, objective, or combined) between-subjects design. Conditions were balanced for gender and employment status.

Experimental Materials

Called “Travel Nebraska,” the website contained information regarding Nebraska. We used a travel site because 1) in our earlier qualitative studies, many internet users said travel is one of their interests, and 2) travel content lent itself to your different writing styles we desired to study. We chose Nebraska to attenuate the end result of prior knowledge on our measures (in recruiting participants, we screened out individuals who had ever lived in, as well as near, Nebraska).

Each type of the Travel Nebraska site consisted of seven pages, and all versions used the same hypertext structure. Making sure that participants would concentrate on text and not be distracted, we used modest hypertext (without any links outside the site) and included only three photos and one illustration. There was no animation. Topics within the site were Nebraska’s history, geography, population, tourist attractions, and economy. The Appendix to the paper shows elements of an example page from each condition.

The control version of your website had a promotional form of writing (in other words., “marketese,”), which contained exaggeration, subjective claims, and boasting, rather than just simple facts. Today this style is characteristic of many pages on the Web.

The concise version had a writing that is promotional, but its text was much shorter. Certain less-important information was cut, bringing your message count for every single page to approximately half that of the corresponding page when you look at the control version. Some of the writing in this version was in the inverted style that is pyramid. However, all information users needed to perform the required tasks was presented in the order that is same all versions of the site.

The version that is scannable contained marketese, nonetheless it was written to encourage scanning, or skimming, of the text for information of interest. This version used bulleted lists, boldface text to highlight keywords, photo captions, shorter sections of text, and much more headings.

The objective version was stripped of marketese. It presented information without exaggeration, subjective claims, or boasting.

The combined version had shorter word count, was marked up for scannability, and was stripped of marketese.

The participant signed a videotape consent form, then was told he or she would visit a website, perform tasks, and answer several questions upon arrival at the usability lab.

After making certain the participant knew how to use the browser, the experimenter explained which he would observe from the room next door towards the lab through the one-way mirror. The participant received both printed instructions from a paper packet and verbal instructions from the experimenter throughout the study.

The participant began at the web site’s homepage. The initial two tasks were to search for specific facts (located on separate pages into the site), without needing a search tool or even the “Find” command. The participant then answered Part 1 of a questionnaire that is brief. Next was a judgment task (suggested by Spool et al. 1997) when the participant first needed to find relevant information, then make a judgment about this. This task was followed by Part 2 for the questionnaire.

Next, the participant was instructed to expend ten minutes learning as much as possible from the pages when you look at the website, when preparing for a short exam. Finally, the participant was asked to draw written down the structure of this website, to the best of his or her recollection.

After completing the research, each participant was told facts about the analysis and received something special.

Task time was the true wide range of seconds it took users to locate answers for the two search tasks plus one judgment task.

The two search tasks were to answer: “On what date did Nebraska become a continuing state?” and “Which Nebraska city could be the 7th largest, when it comes to population?” The questions when it comes to judgment task were: “In your opinion, which tourist attraction is the one that is best to visit? How come you might think so?”

Task errors was a share score in line with the true amount of incorrect answers users gave in the two search tasks.

Memory comprised two measures through the exam: recall and recognition. Recognition memory was a percentage score on the basis of the quantity of correct answers without the quantity of incorrect answers to 5 questions that are multiple-choice. For example, one of several questions read: “that will be Nebraska’s largest ethnic group? a) English buy essay b) Swedes c) Germans d) Irish.”

Recall memory was a share score in line with the true wide range of places of interest correctly recalled minus the number incorrectly recalled. The question was: “can you remember any names of tourist attractions mentioned when you look at the website? Please utilize the space below to list all the ones you remember.”

Time to recall site structure was the wide range of seconds it took users to draw a sitemap.

A measure that is related sitemap accuracy, was a share score based on the wide range of pages (maximum 7) and connections between pages (maximum 9) correctly identified, without the wide range of pages and connections incorrectly identified.

Subjective satisfaction was determined from participants’ answers to a paper-and-pencil questionnaire. Some questions inquired about specific facets of working with the site, as well as other questions asked for an assessment of how well adjectives that are certain the website (anchored by “Describes the site very poorly” to “Describes the site very well”). All questions used 10-point Likert scales.

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