Symbolic Aspects of University Homepage Design: What Appeals to Different Cultures?

Autoren: Devjani Sen, Gitte Lindgaard & Andrew Patrick

University homepages often provide the first introduction to a university for many students in an increasingly global world. As a result, a university?s ability to attract new students may rest in large part on the ability of a website to attract and hold the attention of its intended audience. The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine potential cross-cultural differences in 'persuasive appeals' which may influence how much people from varying cultural backgrounds may trust university homepages. More specifically, this paper attempts to identify cultural differences in the symbolic aspects of these persuasive appeals in university homepages through the identification of cultural markers in message content guided by Hofstede's (1980). As the ultimate aim of this study is to design guidelines for developers of university websites that will cater to a global audience, the goals for this preliminary work are to (1) identify cultural differences in symbolic appeals in university homepages and (2) provide design guidelines for university homepages that are pertinent to, and will hold, persuasive appeal for the end user's cultural mind set. Two initial models, derived from the findings of this study are offered on how cultural differences may influence the impact of persuasive appeals in university homepages. The central findings are discussed in terms of some preliminary implications for future web design.


Symbolic Aspects of User Interface Design, Persuasive Appeal, Cultural Dimensions, Aesthetics