Department of Marketing

The Ambivalent Effects of Website Complexity

The present study analyses how online users react to an increase of complexity of corporate websites. Two pretests and a main study are conducted. A first pretest with 80 subjects validates the distinction between a 'high-complexity' and a 'low-complexity' version of a website, which are then used as stimulus material in the main study. A second pretest with 116 respondents confirms a chain of website effects (ease of navigation, focused attention, enjoyment, attitude towards the website, etc.) that can be applied as criteria to evaluate the impact of website complexity. The main study was conducted as an online experiment with 109 participants. As expected, it is shown that the effects of complexity are ambivalent. On the one hand, website complexity fosters users' experience of flow and a positive attitude towards the website. On the other hand, users find it more difficult to navigate on a more complex website.

Hoffmann, S.; Schwarz, U.; Müller, S. (2011). The Ambivalent Effects of Website Complexity, International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising, 6 (4), 413-433.