The Determinants and Impacts of Aesthetics in Users’ First Interaction with Websites

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-259
Journal / PublicationJournal of Management Information Systems
Issue number1
Online published17 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016


Though aesthetics is generally acknowledged as an important aspect of website design, extant information systems (IS) research on web user experience has rarely studied what affects website aesthetics and how aesthetics influences users’ perceptions of the website and the organization behind the website. In this paper, we synthesize prior literature from different academic domains and propose users’ perceived quality of five design elements (i.e., unity, complexity, intensity, novelty, and interactivity) as determinants of website aesthetics. We further theorize the effects of aesthetics on users’ attitudes toward the website and their perception of the corporate image. Two studies were conducted to test the research model. In Study 1, we adopted a card sorting method and the results provide substantial support to the determinants of website aesthetics. In Study 2, we conducted a survey using ten company portal websites that were unknown to survey respondents. Our analysis further confirms the effects of users’ perceived quality of the five design elements on the perception of website aesthetics. The findings of Study 2 also show that users’ perception of aesthetics has significant impacts on perceived utility and their attitudes toward the website, which further affects the corporate image exhibited via the website. In addition, we find that in users’ first interaction with a website, perceived aesthetics has a larger impact on their attitudes toward the website than perceived utility.

Research Area(s)

  • corporate image, design complexity, design unity, website aesthetics, web design, website intensity, website interactivity