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An Empirical Investigation of Color Temperature and Gender Effects on Web Aesthetics

Constantinos K. Coursaris, Sarah J. Sweirenga, and Ethan Watrall

Journal of Usability Studies, Volume 3, Issue 3, May 2008, pp. 103-117

Article Contents


As the World Wide Web continues to grow in popularity, currently estimated to exceed 1.2 billion users (Nielsen, 2005), Web sites have become core extensions of a business practice rather than a consideration of a new channel (Seethamraju, 2005). Companies seek new insights on how to create more effective Web sites and entice online customers. Extensive literature exists on the acceptance of a new technology, but the former has centered on utility-related dimensions that drive this acceptance. Although research has been conducted on the aesthetic dimensions of interfaces since the mid 1980s, limited research exists on the explicit relevance of hedonic dimensions of human-computer interaction (HCI) to usability. An even smaller set of this research is empirical in nature (Hoffman & Krauss, 2004; Schenkman & Jonsson, 2000; Zhang & Li, 2005). Current findings highlight the importance of aesthetics and specifically color in the scope of Web experience. For example, Tractinsky et al. (2000) empirically studied and showed that users perceive and evaluate aesthetics early in the human-computer interaction process, and that those evaluations are carried forward and may influence later perceptions of usability. Additionally, a few other studies have shown that the cool blue color schemes are associated with higher perceived credibility and trust levels (Fogg et. al, 2001; Lee & See, 2004; Zhang & Li, 2005). Furthermore, it appears that there are gender differences regarding perceptions of attractiveness, usability, and the consequent affective state of satisfaction in Web site design. Cyr and Bonnani (2005) studied the differences between genders' preferences in the context of e-commerce. According to their study, the two genders experience e-commerce differently especially in terms of design. Other factors such as trust and satisfaction seemed to be equally assessed. Furthermore, Simon (2001) explored the differences among genders and cultures. Simon's findings indicated that, in most cases, the perception of Web site attractiveness across genders was significantly different, especially in individualistic (e.g., North American) cultures. However, more research is needed to study the broad range of potential antecedents and their effects on Web site aesthetics. Such an understanding can contribute to further insight regarding Web site usability and in turn goodness (Hassenzahl, 2004). Thus, this research aims to address the above need by studying the effects of color temperature and gender on the perceptions of Web sites aesthetics.

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