The role of context in perceptions of the aesthetics of web pages over time

Paul van Schaik, Jonathan Ling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Citations (Scopus)
538 Downloads (Pure)


An important aspect of the empirical study of user experience is the process by which users form aesthetic and other judgements of interactive products. The current study extends previous research by presenting test users with a context (mode of use) in which to make their judgements, using sets of web pages from specific domains rather than unrelated pages, studying the congruence of perceptions of aesthetic value over time, including judgements after use of a web site, manipulating the aesthetic design of web pages and studying the relationship between usability and aesthetic value. The results from two experiments demonstrate that context increases the stability of judgements from perceptions after brief exposure to those after self-paced exposure and from perceptions after self-paced exposure to those of after site use. Experiment 1 shows that relatively attractive pages are preferred over relatively unattractive pages after brief exposure, but only if no context is provided. Experiment 2 shows that after brief exposure, classically aesthetic pages that are information oriented are rated as more attractive than expressively aesthetic pages. Perceptions are not correlated with measures of task performance or mental effort. We conclude that context is a pivotal factor influencing the stability of users' perceptions, which must be explicitly addressed in the study of users' product experience. Furthermore, the type of aesthetics that is relevant to users' perceptions appears to depend on the application domain. The principle 'what is beautiful is usable' is not confirmed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-89
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Human Computer Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


Dive into the research topics of 'The role of context in perceptions of the aesthetics of web pages over time'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this