Our professor, Agnis Stibe, explains the influence of web design on our behaviors



The Web Influences how You Think


Do you browse web? Yes, I do too. People increasingly visit websites not only to gather information, do practical stuff, or entertain themselves, but also to form their opinions about various topics. 


Recent scientific research [1] reveals and explains how different web elements can significantly influence and predetermine changes in human attitude. For example, not only good quality arguments on a website can persuade its visitors get more involved into an issue, but interestingly, a website navigation design also plays an important role in shaping how people perceive a given topic. Once a website is able to get visitors more engaged into a discussed topic, it would also be able to transform their attitude towards a desired way of thinking. Moreover, the research provides evidence that attitudinal shift is more likely to happen with visitors having less previous knowledge about the give subject.


From a practical standpoint, this research is relevant in a variety of online settings (e.g., e-business, e-government, e-health, e-learning, and e-commerce), when the goal is to alter user attitudes and behaviors. Practitioners working on novel user experience design patterns [2] in shared spaces [3] can gain benefits from the research by applying knowledge of how social presence can encourage involvement of existing and potential users, especially those who are more knowledgeable. The results revealed that pictures of people on the website are important for more knowledgeable users to become more involved in an issue and therefore more likely to change their attitudes. 


For example, if a designed social facilitation feature [4] on a website currently presents only the names of engaged users, then complementing user names with the actual pictures of those users from their social media accounts should increase user involvement for knowledgeable participants. In other words, representation of user pictures would lead more knowledgeable users to realize there are other real people using the platform, thus increasing a sense of human contact and sociability. Such enhancements can also be instrumental for designing other popular socially influencing (or gamified) features in websites [5], for example, related to competition or social comparison.


[1] Cyr, D., Head, M., Lim, E., & Stibe, A. (2018). Using the Elaboration Likelihood Model to Examine Online Persuasion through Website Design. Information & Management.


[2] Stibe, A., Kjær Christensen, A.K., & Nyström, T. (2018). Transforming Sociotech Design (TSD). In Ham J., Karapanos E., Morita P., Burns C. (eds.): Adjunct Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Persuasive Technology.


[3] Stibe, A., & Larson, K. (2016). Persuasive Cities for Sustainable Wellbeing: Quantified Communities. In M. Younas et al. (eds.): Mobile Web and Intelligent Information Systems (MobiWIS 2016), LNCS 9847 (pp. 271–282).


[4] Stibe, A. (2015). Towards a Framework for Socially Influencing Systems: Meta-Analysis of Four PLS-SEM Based Studies. In the 10th International Conference on Persuasive Technology, LNCS 9072 (pp. 172–183). Springer International Publishing.


[5] Stibe, A. (2015). Advancing Typology of Computer-Supported Influence: Moderation Effects in Socially Influencing Systems. In the 10th International Conference on Persuasive Technology, LNCS 9072 (pp. 253–264). Springer International Publishing.