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Information is more important than design in evaluating companies on the Internet

Researchers from the University of Valladolid (UVa) have shown that the effectiveness of company web sites depends more upon their informative content than on the impact their designs may have on viewers’ emotions.

The study, which took into account the profiles of various kinds of Internet users, reveals that positive assessment of a brand increases a user’s intention to purchase it.

The research involved setting up two web sites for a fictitious travel agency. “One of them was purely information-based, while the other was more exciting, with an attractive design, since these are the two features that Internet users report valuing most highly,” Rebeca San José, co-author of the study and a researcher at the UVa told SINC.

The more than 300 volunteers taking part in the experiment were able to choose flights, cars and other tourism services from both sites, which they subsequently evaluated, indicating their level of desire to make a purchase from each. “The research uses the classic advertising model of hierarchy-of-effects,” said San José, “where the purchasing of a product is determined by two previous advertising steps: evaluation of the web site and its impact on the user’s view of the advertised brand”.

The results showed that the informative value of a web site is the prime determinant governing whether the brand is well regarded, which subsequently increases the desire to buy. However, an exciting and fun web site has less influence in forming a positive corporate image.

The other part of the study shows that different kinds of users assess brands differently, with a clear separation between those who use the Internet to access information and those who use it for entertainment purposes. The “information seeker” places more weight on the informative value of the site, with its ability to excite having almost zero importance. The informative aspect is of little importance to the “excitement seeker”, meanwhile, who views more positively those publicity campaigns that balance information with entertainment.

Recent data from the National Statistics Institute shows that almost 60% of Spanish companies have their own web site. “Nowadays, pages with flashy presentations can load very quickly thanks to the high speed of data flow”, said Rebeca San José, but “they do not make for easy navigation around the page”.

SINC Team | alfa
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