Factors Affecting User Judgments of Websites

  • Ons Al-Shamaileh

Student thesis: Phd


Abstractof thesis submitted by Ons Al-Shamaileh for the degree of PhD and entitled"Factors Affecting User Judgments of Websites"The University of Manchester, September 2012This thesis reports user experience (UX) research towards understanding the complexities of users' judgment of websites and investigating factors beyond usability that affect the user judgments and websites overall preferences. Several models have been proposed to understand users' judgment, some focused on the user and others on the interactive system; nevertheless, a number of factors in both areas have not been investigated in depth, and the relative importance of the quality criteria needs further research. Three empirical studies were conducted to explore the roles of user characteristics (religious identity, user values and culture), the interactive system (website interactivity), repeated exposure and the relative importance of the quality criteria that influence users' judgment. Several UX criteria were assessed through questionnaires. Interviews were conducted to support questionnaire results by eliciting the reasons for users' judgment.The first study compared Muslims and Christians evaluations of websites, with either Christian- or Muslim-oriented content in health, aid and e-commerce domains. Results showed that the religious identity strongly influenced users' overall preferences. Users preferred matching-identity websites and evaluated them more positively than non-matching sites; the effect was stronger for Muslims probably because they had stronger religious commitment than the Christians. In addition, the strength of religious beliefs affected respondents' judgments when the website matched their religious background, although it did not seem to have an effect on non-matching websites. The study also showed that when a religion-neutral e-commerce brand was added, both Muslims and Christians favoured it, followed by the matching and then the non-matching sites.The second study compared UK and Jordanian respondents' evaluations of health-related websites. Results showed that a familiar website brand with comprehensive content and interactive features had the strongest effect on users' judgment. Respondents were more positive to a website with a familiar brand (NHS-UK), comprehensive content and interactive features, while there were minor effects of health awareness on users' overall preferences. The results also demonstrated that the two groups varied in their website preferences where culture influenced the brand recognition and overall preference of websites.The third study tested the influence of website interactivity and repeated exposure on respondents' judgments. Users viewed (low, mid and high) interactive e-commerce websites for three visits with a two-week gap between each visit. They preferred more interactive websites over non/less-interactive ones while repeated exposure improved attitudes towards the more interactive website over time. The research further shows that the criteria that people consider as important may not always be used to discriminate between websites. Content and usability were constantly ranked in the top positions, and content discriminated between sites in overall preference; however, usability did not strongly affect users' overall preferences. The thesis finally proposed a preliminary model based on the investigations, which shows the factors that may have an influence on users' overall preference.
Date of Award1 Aug 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorAlistair Sutcliffe (Supervisor) & Pedro Sampaio (Supervisor)

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