General Online Research 2011

March 14-16, 2011, Heinrich-Heine University of Düsseldorf


Conference Agenda

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Session Overview

A7: Instruments and User Profiles

Time: Wednesday, 16/Mar/2011: 1:45pm - 2:45pm
Session Chair: Olaf Wenzel


VisAWI - Assessing visual aesthetics of websites

Meinald T. Thielsch1, Morten Moshagen2

1University of Münster, Germany; 2University of Mannheim and University of Duesseldorf, Germany

Relevance & Research Question:

Web sites are an essential part of marketing and communication for most enterprises and institutions. Evaluation of web user experience is mainly focused on usability, however, visual aesthetics has been shown to critically affect not only usability but also a variety of constructs such as satisfaction, pleasure, urge to buy impulsively, preference, customer loyalty, and intention to revisit. Given the importance of visual aesthetics, it is vital that it is adequately assessed. Our research aimed at providing a precise operational definition and at developing a new measure of perceived visual aesthetics of websites.

Methods & Data:

In a first series of four studies with a total of 1574 participants we defined the domain, generated and tested a first set of items, and refined the scales using explanatory and confirmatory factor analysis. The emerged scales were validated in a second series of three studies with a total of 965 participants.


Four interrelated facets of perceived visual aesthetics of websites were identified and validated: (a) Simplicity and (b) Diversity, which have both been repeatedly treated as important parameters of aesthetic objects throughout the history of empirical aesthetics, (c) Colorfulness, which has been shown to be a very powerful aspect of perceived web aesthetics, and (d) Craftsmanship, which addresses the skillful and coherent integration of the relevant design dimensions. These four subscales contained in the VisAWI demonstrate good internal consistencies (.85 ≤ α ≤ .89). Furthermore, evidence for the convergent (.60 ≤ r ≤ .82), divergent, discriminative, and concurrent validity (.40 ≤ r ≤ .51) of the VisAWI is provided.

Added Value:

Our research aimed at meeting the apparent need for a well-designed and carefully validated assessment instrument. The final version of the VisAWI - comprising 18 items and four scales - is a relatively brief but sound measure of visual aesthetics of websites. The VisAWI is of theoretical and practical benefit not only for online and market researcher but also for practitioners designing web user experience.

Thielsch-VisAWI - Assessing visual aesthetics of websites-118.pdf

The acceptation of the online self-assessment tool CPSM by principals

Stephan Gerhard Huber, Esther Kaufmann, Marius Schwander

University of Teacher Education Central Switzerland Zug, Switzerland

Relevance & Research Question:

The professional demands on principals have changed drastically and have become highly complex. Hence, the online self-assessment tool Competence Profile School Management (CPSM) offers principals the possibility to reflect their strengths and weaknesses in different requirement areas of principals; and to compare their individual results with peers from the school context, thus gaining valuable information on their individual profiles when planning their professional development and careers. Hence, the scope of our paper is the research question: how well is the online self-assessment CPSM accepted by his users?

Methods & Data:

To check the acceptation of the CPSM an online survey for anonymous feedback was sent to CPSM participants to evaluate it. After 492 participants from five different regions in Germany (96%) and Switzerland (4%) completed the self-assessment in 2009 they got an invitation for this online survey. The survey focused on the participants’ experiences, the information of the self-assessment they had received beforehand, the administration, the results and their usefulness, and further professional perspectives and development planning.


310 participants answered, which had led to a satisfying response rate of 63% (see Welker, 2001). After a drop-out analysis of our survey data no systematic drop-out due to the survey questions was revealed (Knapp & Heidingsfelder, 2001). The result of our evaluation shows great acceptance and wide usefulness of the tool. Most participants (87%, N = 260) rated that their expectations on the tool were met or exceeded. The vast majority of the participants state that the tool is useful (76.4%, N = 227) or generally positive (94.7%, N = 283) or interesting (87%, N = 261). Hence, it is not surprising that most participants would recommend the CPSM self-assessment to colleagues (91%, N = 273). Beyond quantitative data we present also qualitative data related to the evaluation on the CPSM.

Added Value: This online evaluation of the online self-assessment CPSM leads to the conclusion that the CPSM self-assessment is a fruitful tool for principals which is highly needed. Moreover, our presentation will show an example of how we can use the internet for online self-assessments.

Methodological innovations in the identification and modeling of Internet user profiles

Volker Lang, Steffen Hillmert, Meike Han

University of Tübingen, Germany

Relevance & Research Question:

Differences in Internet user profiles gain importance as inequalities in Internet access lose importance due to the widespread diffusion of the Internet. Prominent theories on the “digital divide” differentiate between Internet access, Internet-related competencies and attitudes as well as efficiency with regard to outcomes. They assume that inequalities on each of the levels are constituted by multidimensional relationships between these aspects. However, empirical research has so far not matched the specifications and the variety of indicators proposed by the theories; rather, it has compounded modes and attitudes. Empirical progress aiming at a profound understanding of the interrelations between these dimensions therefore depends on the availability of more detailed data. We offer a sophisticated operationalization tracing out latent user profiles which constitute these inequalities.

Methods & Data:

Our project is part of the interdisciplinary research cluster “ScienceCampus Tübingen” which focuses on interrelations between education, informational environments and digital media use. We are currently collecting a dataset of unique scope on Internet user profiles among university students, differentiating between Internet-related competencies and attitudes as well as modes of Internet use and domain-specific outcomes. Building on the ideas of Item Response Theory we use latent variable modeling techniques in order to trace out communalities and factors differentiating between the levels and dimensions of the digital divide. Thus we are not only able to identify qualitative differences between Internet users but also to reconstruct the underlying latent user profiles.


Analytical models are currently being set up. The ongoing process of data collection and preparation will be finished by the end of 2010. Results building on the research design lined out above are expected by March 2011.

Added value:

Our work closes a significant gap in the research on digital inequalities. By using unique data covering practically all theoretically important aspects of Internet use and by implementing the concept of Internet user profiles we address several shortcomings of the conventional forms of operationalizing the digital divide. Our results as well as our data can thus be expected to be of major relevance to the research community in this field.

Lang-Methodological innovations in the identification and modeling-194.pdf

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