Does brand information change users’ initial and later evaluations of website appeal?

Authors: Bradley, D., McDougall, S. and Kirkby, J.

Start date: 24 October 2016

Research has shown that first impressions are important when making evaluations of website appeal (e.g. Lindgaard, Fernandes, Dudek & Brown, 2006; Lindgaard, Dudek, Sen, Sumegi & Noonan, 2011). However, relatively little is known about how evaluations of appeal may be shaped by other information which is available to us (but see Thielsch, Blotenberg & Jaron, 2014). Of particular interest was the possibility that prior knowledge of brand information would shape users’ evaluations, since brand identity is thought to be critical in shaping consumers’ decisions (e.g. Cho & Oh, 2012; de Angeli, Hartmann & Sutcliffe, 2009). Using 3 matched sets of websites, participants were given positive, negative or no brand information prior to evaluating appeal. They were given either 500ms, 6s, or an unlimited time to make appeal judgements. Eye movements were tracked in order to examine whether what they attended to related systematically to the appeal judgements made. This made it possible to examine (a) how prior brand information may change later appeal evaluations (b) how users’ evaluations of websites may change over time and (c) whether eye tracking can inform us about the information used in making decisions about website appeal. The implications of our findings will be discussed.

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