The internet is an ever-expanding medium of communication; capable of connecting users with masses of information and countless services. In such a popular and competitive market, it is imperative that websites are both practical and pleasant to navigate. Using an eye-tracker, we obtained objective measurements of complexity with subjective ratings of complexity and aesthetics, to explore judgments arising from the perception of university homepages. As expected, high levels of perceived complexity resulted in low aesthetic ratings. Interestingly, fixation count correlated negatively with complexity and positively with aesthetics; a novel finding. We argue that high complexity and negative aesthetic appraisals are a result of cognitive overload due to the limited capacity of working memory. We suggest ways in which web designers can avoid information overload, by complying with the known limits of human cognition, to maximize the positive interaction between webpage and user.Interaction Science
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