Title: Website complexity and usability: is there a role for mental workload?

Authors: Giovanni Serra; Federica De Falco; Piero Maggi; Rosa De Piano; Francesco Di Nocera

Addresses: Department of Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy ' Department of Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy; Health Directorate, Occupational Medicine Unit, Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital IRCCS, Rome, Italy ' Department of Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy ' Department of Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy ' Department of Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy; Department of Planning, Design, and Technology of Architecture, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy

Abstract: The concept and the assessment of mental workload - which is of great importance in the human factors community - has been overlooked in usability/user experience research. Mental workload depends on the characteristics of the interface and the nature of the task, and it may affect both user performance and usability. Mental workload assessment may represent a useful addition to human-computer interaction studies, particularly concerning those dealing with the design of user interfaces and the interaction with websites and apps. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the role of mental workload experienced by the individuals when browsing information-abundant websites: a case in which the task load imposed on the user may be particularly relevant. Three Italian Government websites with different levels of information complexity have been selected to test the research hypothesis. Results indicate that mental workload may contribute to the perception of usability and the overall user experience.

Keywords: information architecture; mental workload; eye-tracking; usability; website design.

DOI: 10.1504/IJHFE.2022.10044021

International Journal of Human Factors and Ergonomics, 2022 Vol.9 No.2, pp.182 - 199

Received: 29 Jul 2021
Accepted: 29 Nov 2021

Published online: 18 Apr 2022 *

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