Implications of an Interactive Aesthetic for French and UK e-commerce

By:
Dr Gunn R.W. Gunn,
Gloria Moss
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The World Wide Web is growing at a fast pace (Van Iwaarden et al, 2004, doubling in size roughly every two to three months (Hoffman et al 1995). Dramatic claims are made about the effectiveness of web-based commercial efforts. Central to the perception, enjoyment and ease of use felt using websites are non price mechanisms of differentiation (Gupta 1995; (van der Heijden 200; van Iwaarden et al 2004) but the only statistically rigorous studies of factors such as form and content have been conducted within a universalist paradigm of aesthetics (Lavie and Traktinsky, 2004).

The proportion of men and women using the web is reaching near parity and the issue of whether male and female webdesign preferences are similar (as much of the literature has assumed) or different asssumes critical importance. As a consequence, this paper reports on an interactionist approach to web aesthetics involving an analysis and comparison of the features contained in a random sample of 120 websites created by UK and French students. Twenty four features used to compare male and female produced websites in an earlier study of UK websites(Moss and Gunn, 2005a) are used again for an aggregated sample consisting of French and UK websites. In the earlier study of UK websites, 13 out of the 24 features used emerged as significantly different between the male and female-produced websites. These features related to navigation, gender of figures shown and colours used.

This paper argues that the appeal of websites can be maximised if they mirror the needs and interests of their target populations and that websites targeted at male or female dominated markets need to reflect the aesthetic diversity found in the male and female-produced websites analysed here. It also presents information on the demographics of the IT profession in the UK and France and suggests that there is a potential imbalance between the percentage of women involved online and those employed in the IT profession. This suggests that the male domination of the IT and webdesign professions in both the UK and France could be a barrier to the effective mirroring of female website preferences.


Keywords: Websites, Web aesthetics, Sex Differences, E-commerce, UK, France
Stream: Human Technologies and Useability
Presentation Type: Display in English
Paper: Implications of an Interactive Aesthetic for French and UK e-commerce


Dr Gunn R.W. Gunn

Principal lecturer, Business School, University of Glamorgan
UK

Dr Rod Gunn is a statistician and former Director of the Glamorgan Business School. He lectures on Strategy and is involved in a number of large research projects. Rod has been involved in web based research and consultancy for some time. In addition he has acted as a consultant to WDA (Future Technologies Programme), Holiday Inn, British Airways, London Underground, a number of NHS Trusts, Bath University, SOAS, Southampton, Plymouth, Cardiff as well as many others. In addition he has acted as a consultant for a wide range of Small and Medium sized enterprises within Wales.

Gloria Moss

Senior Research Fellow, Business School, University of Glamorgan
UK

G A Moss is a Senior Research Fellow at Glamorgan University Business School and Visiting Professor at the Ecole Superieure de Gestion, Paris. Gloria combines a background in HR (having held senior positions at Courtaulds Acetate and Eurotunnel) with a unique understanding of the impact of nationality and gender on graphic, product and web design. Her related publications date back to 1995 (see weblog at http://designpsych.weblog.glam.ac.uk/) and clients have included M&S, BT, Bounty, Canon Cameras, Directski, Host Universal and Corporate Edge.

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