Djamasbi, S., Tullis, T., Hsu, J., Mazuera, E., Osberg, K., & Bosch, J. (2007). Gender Preferences in Web Design: Usability Testing through Eye Tracking AMCIS Conference Proceedings, 2007. Retrieved from http://aisel.aisnet.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1643&context=amcis2007
The authors wanted to see if gender played a role in website preferences. Previous literature suggested this would be the case in layout and presentation of stimuli, spurring the authors to test if male and females had different preferences when viewing a website.
The authors note that previous research didn’t use an eye tracking system like theirs. Previous studies had the participants wearing odd headgear which limited there head movement and caused an unnatural setting. The author’s eye tracking system was done through a camera sitting on top of the monitor and did not impede the participant.
The authors used bricklets to test their hypothesis. A bricklet is a small window with specific useful information designed to make navigation of the website faster and easier for the user. Its main purpose is to bring important information to the attention of the user.
The authors background color and image of the bricklets to determine if that changed how females or males noticed them.
The authors hypothesized:
H1) Female participants will notice bricklets with pictures of people more than males.
H2) Female participants will notice bricklets with a light color background more than males.
The sample was 17 male and 19 female participants at Fidelity Investments. (the employers of some of the authors)
Participatns were asked to navigate the website to find information. Of the tasks, only one required the use of a bricklet to finish, however all of the tasks could be made more efficient by utilizing a bricklet. There were four different designs of bricklets, with four different colors.
Contrary to the author’s hypothesis, females did not notice bricklets with pictures of people more than males. The eye tracking systems did not notice the females fixating more on the bricklets with the images than the males. The second hypothesis was also not supported by the data. Overall, there is no difference between the genders with regards to the number of time they fixated on the bricklets.
The authors did note that their study indirectly supported the Banner blindness theory. (Users overlook banners on websites) So, they suggest that men and women equally ignore the banners.
I think it is important to note that the authors were testing noticeabilty, not appealability. The genders did have preferences about that but they didn’t affect how they noticed things. When I think of preferences, I think of appealability, not noticeability.
I found it interesting to read another study where the hypothesis was not supported. I wonder what the difference would have been if the study wasn’t using work related materials. The participants could have simply not cared about what they were doing. I also wonder what the merit in this study was for the employers. Did they intend to change their systems into a male and female based system? Or was this a study simply to find out if there was a difference?
I also was confused about the website itself. They say some of the tasks were to find out how many people have a particular account. This doesn’t sound like a website, it sounds like a company system and I think that would affect how the participants looked at it. They didn’t go into it thinking website, they were thinking company system. I think I would have liked more clarity on the website itself and its purpose.
I wanted to do a gender based article because I had read and reported about a culture based one. This study leaves me feeling let down so I think I may try and find a different one studying gender.