Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Interactive Web Sites Draw Minds, Shape Public Perception

Date:
May 27, 2008
Source:
Penn State
Summary:
The interactive look and feel of a corporate website could help shape positive perceptions about the organization if the site includes a likable design and features that engage the target audience, especially job seekers, according to Penn State media researchers.

The interactive look and feel of a corporate website could help shape positive perceptions about the organization if the site includes a likeable design and features that engage the target audience, especially job seekers, according to media researchers.

Related Articles


S. Shyam Sundar, professor of film, video and media studies at Penn State, and Jamie Guillory, formerly an undergraduate student at Penn State, are trying to understand how interactivity in websites influences the public perception of an organization. In previous studies of websites of political candidates, Sundar had found that the candidates were rated more positively if their site had some interactive features, even though the sites had no new content, and the candidates held the same policy positions. But too much interactivity tends to turn off people.

"Websites with low to medium levels of interactivity create positive perceptions but for medium to high interactivity, it actually falls down," said Sundar. "In general, too much interactivity is not desirable, and may lead to information overload."

Whatever effects, positive or negative, on a site, interactivity acts as a volume knob that boosts the effect, he explained, noting, "Just through the presence of such features, people attribute meaning to the content or the nature of the site."

The Penn State researchers wanted to see if the same effect holds true even if the people viewing the website are highly engaged, or whether they form their opinions based on bells and whistles on a website only when they do not know enough about a topic.

In the current study, 116 undergraduate students were randomly assigned to one of seven websites representing low, medium, and high levels of interactivity. The students were specifically assigned to review the career section of these organizations because these sites require a higher level of involvement.

Features on these sites ranged from enabling a person to click on a link for job inquiries, follow a link for information on a specific job, submit an online application and view video footage of the company and its employees.

Students then answered a questionnaire on their perceptions of an organization based on their experience with its website. The study results show that there is a significant positive relationship between the level of interactivity on a career website and job seekers' perception of that organization.

"We found that college students looking for a job are more likely to apply to companies that have interactive websites with bells and whistles," said Sundar, who presented his findings today (May 25) at the 58th annual conference of the International Communication Association (ICA) in Montreal. "But the students use these features to make a logical connection."

The work received a Top Paper award from the association's Public Relations division.

"We found that both liking and involvement are significant mediators such that people who saw a high interactive website liked it more, and they also got involved as a result of liking it more," he added.

The findings may have important implications for organizations. For instance, by simply tweaking the features on the website and without changing any of the content, a company could project a positive image to its targeted demographic.

In other words, the website of an organization could feature an optimal amount of interactivity specifically tailored to its target audience, and thereby control the impressions that people form of that organization.

But Sundar also cautions against being taken in by fancy websites that promise much and deliver little.

"We have uncovered a psychological phenomena here, that is the more interactive some thing is, more people -- especially college students -- are likely to buy into whatever is being advocated," said Sundar, who is also a founder of the Penn State Media Effects Research Laboratory. "We are trying to warn them against that potential danger."

Researchers say the next step is to figure out all the different meanings people are attaching when they are faced with new responsive features.

"Interactivity is multi-faceted in terms of the meanings it communicates. It is not just about interaction alone," added Sundar.

The Penn State Media Effects Research Laboratory is at http://www.psu.edu/dept/medialab


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Penn State. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Penn State. "Interactive Web Sites Draw Minds, Shape Public Perception." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 May 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080526000349.htm>.
Penn State. (2008, May 27). Interactive Web Sites Draw Minds, Shape Public Perception. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080526000349.htm
Penn State. "Interactive Web Sites Draw Minds, Shape Public Perception." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080526000349.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Computers & Math News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

FCC Forces T-Mobile To Alert Customers Of Data Throttling

FCC Forces T-Mobile To Alert Customers Of Data Throttling

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) T-Mobile and the FCC have reached an agreement requiring the company to alert customers when it throttles their data speeds. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Symantec Uncovers Sophisticated Spying Malware Regin

Symantec Uncovers Sophisticated Spying Malware Regin

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) A Symantec white paper reveals details about Regin, a spying malware of unusual complexity which is believed to be state-sponsored. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How to Keep Your Android Device Safe This Holiday Season

How to Keep Your Android Device Safe This Holiday Season

Howdini (Nov. 24, 2014) Protect yourself against malware and hackers, especially during the hectic online shopping season. Mobile device security makes a great holiday gift and protects your loved ones from cyber attacks and identity theft. Video provided by Howdini
Powered by NewsLook.com
How to Keep You and Your Family's Identitiy Safe Online This Holiday Season

How to Keep You and Your Family's Identitiy Safe Online This Holiday Season

Howdini (Nov. 24, 2014) The hectic holiday season is a prime time for online identity theft, so make sure you’re protected.Be cautious when shopping online Internet security software makes a great holiday gift and protects your loved ones from cyber attacks and identity theft. Video provided by Howdini
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins