The purpose of this dissertation project was to determine what factors produce the best user experience and to find out what design elements elicit the greater user engagement.
The purpose of this study was to investigate what determines user engagement and perceived sense of safety on a website. The literature review researched into content management systems to discover current methods of developing websites. The topics of user experience and user interface design were also explored to understand user needs and design principles, as well as social integration to discover how users interact in an online setting.
What could be gauged from this research is to pose the question, to what extent does design effect user engagement? From this, two alternative music news websites were developed using WordPress. The two developments had identical content, although the content itself was presented uniquely, as strategically implemented design choices were added in attempt to influence the level of user engagement.
One website ‘SoAlternative’ was designed to look friendly with extravagant graphics and animations but contained minor usability issues. Whereas its rival ‘Indie Bite’ was made to look more professional and have the greater usability. Which one would users prefer?
SoAlternative’s logo set out to produce a positive impact, with it’s quirkiness and sense of fun. An emoji would resonate and be instantly recognisable to users and come across as playful.
Indie Bite’s logo exudes authority and aimed to hit users with professionalism and a greater sense of trust.
Design & Layout
SoAlternative set out to produce greater emotional response by evoking and a fun community environment. SoAlternative aimed to distract users with elaborate graphics, animated elements and vibrant colours.
However, the usability obstacle was that there was a greater amount of scrolling required to find news articles.
Contrastingly, Indie Bite was designed to appear as more formal and articles were placed into convenient rows for greater usability.
The colour of blue was also implemented to depict the website as calmer and a more sensible community environment.
A diverse sample of 20 participants were asked to explore both websites and then move onto the questionnaire. The questionnaire measured quantitative data such as emotional response with regard to colours, graphics and how easy it was to find information on each website. Qualitative data was also collected as participants were given opportunity to offer a reflection on their overall experience.
The studies’ most significant finding was that the majority of the participants who completed the questionnaire were most engaged with the professional website ‘Indie Bite’, as it felt more trustworthy, authentic and most usable. The general consensus also perceived Indie Bite as safer, proving those design implementations correct.
This would conclude that the most important factor in why users would rather revisit a particular website would be for its usability and how quickly users can achieve their goal. The study discovered that elaborate graphics and vibrant colours should be only used in moderation, and should never be prioritised over usability. Ultimately, finding the right balance between aesthetically pleasing and utility will produce a good emotional response.