WPI Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Computer Science Department


Major Qualifying Project MQP-DCB-0004
Computer Science Department, WPI
Terms ABC 2000-2001

Qualitative Analysis of Web Site Color and Layout Adaptations

Esteban Burbano & Joel Minski

Advisors: Professors David C. Brown and Isabel Cruz

Published as:

D. C. Brown, E. Burbano, J. Minski & I. F. Cruz (Jan./Mar. 2002) ``An Evaluation of the Effects of Web Page Color and Layout Adaptations'', IEEE Multimedia, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 86-89.



This project studied the effect of web page adaptations on information finding tasks at a web site. The types of adaptations made were to color and to layout. All adaptations were made in advance of the experiment. The hypothesis was that these adaptations would allow users to complete tasks in a shorter time, and that this effect would occur whether the adaptations were used individually or together.

A web-based experiment was designed that required each user to answer three questions. The answer for each could be found by searching through a web site. A local copy of a portion of IBM's Sydney 2000 web site was used for these experiments. Each question was associated with a different adaptation of the web site. For each question, each user saw either no adaptation (N), a color adaptation (C) or a layout adaptation (L), or a combination of both color and layout adaptations (B). In order to reduce the potential effects of learning and to compensate for adaptation order, the experiment was kept brief and a balanced experimental design was used.

One hundred and twenty eight students participated in the experiment. They self-selected from four different WPI Computer Science courses. A quarter were exposed to the Both/Layout/None (BLN) order of adaptations when they answered their three questions, and a quarter to the NLB order. Another quarter were exposed to the Both/Color/None (BCN) order of adaptations, and the final quarter to the NCB order. The time to answer the question and the number of mouse clicks were measured for each user.

The collected data was analysed using a one-way repeated measures analysis of variance using the BLN/NLB group, and the BCN/NCB group. For all of these analyses, results were significant at the p < .0005 level. The `Both' adaptation has task completion time slightly half that of `None', and a significant reduction compared to `Color' alone. The `Both' adaptation was slightly twice as fast as `Layout' alone, and nearly three times faster than `None'. `Color' adaptation alone reduced task time more than `Layout' adaptation. However, this might have been caused by the variations in the complexity of the tasks or the degree of adaptation made. It was concluded that there was significant support from the experimental data for the hypothesis.

[Return to the WPI Homepage] [Return to the CS Homepage]

dcb@cs.wpi.edu / Sun, 16 Dec 2001