Designing Not Just for Pleasure: Effects of Web Site Aesthetics on Consumer Shopping Value

Shun Cai and Yunjie (Calvin) Xu
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 15 Number 4, Summer 2011, pp. 159.

Abstract: Despite its centrality to human thoughts and practices, aesthetics has largely been ignored in research on Web site design. Recently, studies have begun to show that aesthetic qualities such as color, graphics, and the layout of a Web site can play an important role in improving consumer shopping experiences. By integrating theories and research findings from diverse fields, we investigate the impacts of two dimensions of aesthetics, namely, classical aesthetics and expressive aesthetics, on online consumers’ shopping value. More important, we propose that the effect of these two dimensions of aesthetics on consumer shopping value is contingent on the hedonic and utilitarian nature of products that consumers purchase online. A laboratory experiment was conducted to test the research model, and the results generally support our hypotheses. From a theoretical perspective, our findings not only establish consumer shopping value as a key business value of Web site aesthetics but also enrich the current knowledge on the contingent effect of Web site aesthetics for utilitarian and hedonic products. From a practical perspective, the findings provide guidance for online vendors to provide their customers with better service in the form of properly designed aesthetic Web sites.

Key Words and Phrases: Classical aesthetics, expressive aesthetics, shopping enjoyment, shopping process value, Web site aesthetics.