“We know first impressions are very important,” says Dr. Hong Sheng, assistant professor of business and information technology at Missouri S&T. “As more people use the Internet to search for information, a user’s first impressions of a website can determine whether that user forms a favorable or unfavorable view of that organization.”
Sheng’s research with Sirjana Dahal, who received her graduate degree from Missouri S&T last December, could also help Web designers understand which elements of a website’s design are most important for users.
For their research, Sheng and Dahal enlisted 20 Missouri S&T students to view screenshots, or static images, of the main websites from 25 law schools in the U.S. The researchers chose law schools because that degree is not offered at Missouri S&T, so students would not compare those degree programs with one offered at their own campus.
“We wanted to show them sites that were relevant to them but not familiar to them,” says Sheng, whose research specialty is human-computer interaction.