Dissertation Research Project

PROJECT TYPE

Website Design
Research

BACKGROUND

The purpose of this dissertation project was to determine what factors produce the greater user experience and what design elements elicit the most user engagement. Two alternative music news websites were built in WordPress, with unique designs and usability obstacles in order to test which website users prefer and would rather join.

*for educational purposes only, no copyright intended.

01. Branding

SoAlternative

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 was set to influence the user in perceiving it as less formal. 

Indie Bite

The Indie Bite logo was designed to exude professionalism, and aimed to hit users with a greater sense of trust and authenticity. 

02. Designs & Layout

SoAlternative’s extravagant graphics and animations were set to draw the greater amount of positive emotions. The vibrant colours were to represent an energetic and exciting community, with rounded buttons and avatars to conform to current social network trends.

However, SoAlternatve had strategically placed usability obstacles, such as less navigation options and extensive scrolling to find news articles, in attempt to see if users would opt for the more usable website, or if attractive graphics could distract the user from such obstacles.

The simple approach with Indie Bite made content easier to find with more navigation options than SoAlternative, as well as accessible rows of columns that required a less amount of scrolling.

The use of blue was to have a calming impact on users, with the website intended to eminate a safe and reliable community environment. 

03. Key Findings & Conclusions

A questionnaire was distributed to a sample of 20 volunteer participants to gain both quantitative and qualitative data, in effort to measure the effectiveness of the design implementations. A wide demographic of age, gender and occupation were ensured for sampling to gain an overall representation of a general internet user. Participants were asked to explore both websites on a PC/Mac/Laptop before answering the questionnaire.

Design | Which website do you think looks the most professional?

SoAlternative20%
Indie Bite80%

80% of participants felt that Indie Bite was the most professional looking website, with the design implementations successful in influencing the user, as some participants remarked on how the logo and colour scheme affected this judgement.

Usability | On which website do you think information was best organised?

SoAlternative30%
Indie Bite70%

The graphics and animations of SoAlternative may have been influential on some participants, but ultimately, 70% that felt information was easier to find on Indie Bite due to less scrolling required and organised layout. 

User Experience | Which website did you enjoy using the most?

SoAlternative35%
Indie Bite65%

When participants were asked to reflect on which website they enjoyed using the most, more than half decided that they enjoyed and would rather join Indie Bite as it was perceived as trustworthy and reliable, and was best suited for the purpose of the website.

Although some results and design implementations were not as successful as anticipated, this study concluded that usability and user-friendly design is the most important factor for user engagement, and not extravagant design elements. The user experience, perceived authenticity and utility of a well organised website is pivotal in why most users would rather revisit/join one website over the other. The study also proved that animations and graphics were less of a concern and would have to be used in moderation, taking the purpose and suitability of a website into consideration.