The experiment used five versions of a web site made for this study.

Participants

The participants were 51 experienced Web users recruited by Sun (average level of Web experience was a couple of years). Participants ranged in age from 22-69 (average age was 41). So that they can focus on “normal users,” we excluded the following professions from the analysis: webmasters, Web designers, graphic artists, graphical user interface professionals, writers, editors, computer scientists, and computer programmers.

We checked for outcomes of age and Web experience from the dependent variables mentioned in the 1st five hypotheses, but we found only differences-none significant that is negligible. Had web sites within our study been more difficult to navigate or had our tasks necessitated use of search engines or any other Web infrastructure, we would have expected significant results of both age and Web experience.

The experiment employed a 5-condition (promotional control, scannable, concise, objective, or combined) between-subjects design. Conditions were balanced for gender and employment status.

Experimental Materials

Called “Travel Nebraska,” the website contained information about Nebraska. We used a travel site because 1) inside our earlier qualitative studies, many internet users said travel is one of their interests, and 2) travel content lent itself towards the different writing styles we wanted to study. We chose Nebraska to reduce the result of prior knowledge on our measures (in recruiting participants, we screened out individuals who had ever lived in, and sometimes even near, Nebraska). Continue reading