BEAUTIFUL BEYOND USEFUL? THE ROLE OF WEB AESTHETICS

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Description: Past research has long set web usability as the ultimate goal in the evaluation of web design attributes. This study examines the roles of web aesthetics and web usability in online shoppers' central and peripheral information processing. The results indicate that: (1) web usability has a positive effect on the intention to purchase and a negative effect on the activation of search; (2) web aesthetics has positive effects both on the intention to purchase and on the activation of search, and its effect on the activation of search is much stronger than its effect on the intention to purchase; and (3) web usability has a stronger effect on the intention to purchase than web aesthetics does. The findings reinforce the determinant role of web usability in online shoppers' central information processing, and reveal that, although its role in central information processing is supportive, web aesthetics plays a substantial role in activating online shoppers' peripheral information processing. Managerial implications are provided for web planners and web designers. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]
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