Title: The ambivalent effects of website complexity

Authors: Stefan Hoffmann; Uta Schwarz; Stefan Müller

Addresses: Faculty of Business and Economics, Department of Marketing, Technische Universität Dresden, 01062 Dresden, Germany. ' Faculty of Business and Economics, Department of Marketing, Technische Universität Dresden, 01062 Dresden, Germany. ' Faculty of Business and Economics, Department of Marketing, Technische Universität Dresden, 01062 Dresden, Germany

Abstract: The present study analyses how online users react to an increase of complexity of corporate websites. Two pretests and a main study are conducted. A first pretest with 80 subjects validates the distinction between a |high-complexity| and a |low-complexity| version of a website, which are then used as stimulus material in the main study. A second pretest with 116 respondents confirms a chain of website effects (ease of navigation, focused attention, enjoyment, attitude towards the website, etc.) that can be applied as criteria to evaluate the impact of website complexity. The main study was conducted as an online experiment with 109 participants. As expected, it is shown that the effects of complexity are ambivalent. On the one hand, website complexity fosters users| experience of flow and a positive attitude towards the website. On the other hand, users find it more difficult to navigate on a more complex website.

Keywords: corporate websites; website effectiveness; flow; presence; multimedia; ambivalence; ambivalent effects; website complexity; online users; user reaction; high-complexity websites; low-complexity websites; website effects; navigational ease; website navigation; focused attention; website enjoyment; user attitudes; online experiments; virtual experiments; positive attitudes; navigational difficulty; internet marketing; advertising; world wide web.

DOI: 10.1504/IJIMA.2011.043658

International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising, 2011 Vol.6 No.4, pp.413 - 433

Received: 08 May 2021
Accepted: 12 May 2021

Published online: 09 Nov 2011 *

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