High and low spatial frequencies in website evaluations

Thielsch MT, Hirschfeld G

Research article (journal)


Which features of websites are important for users' perceptions regarding aesthetics or usability? This study investigates how evaluations of aesthetic appeal and usability depend on high vs. low spatial frequencies. High spatial frequencies convey information on fine details, whereas low spatial frequencies convey information about the global layout. Participants rated aesthetic appeal and usability of 50 website screenshots from different domains. Screenshots were presented unfiltered, low-pass filtered with blurred targets or high-pass filtered with high-pass filtered targets. The main result is that low spatial frequencies can be seen to have a unique contribution in perceived website aesthetics, thus confirming a central prediction from processing fluency theory. There was no connection between low spatial frequencies and usability evaluations, whereas strong correlations were found between ratings of high-pass filtered websites and those of unfiltered websites in aesthetics and usability. This study thus offers a new perspective on the biological basis of users' website perceptions. This research links ergonomics to neurocognitive models of visual processing. This paper investigates how high and low spatial frequencies, which are neurologically processed in different visual pathways, independently contribute to users' perceptions of websites. This is very relevant for theories of website perceptions and for practitioners of web design.

Details zur Publikation

Pages: 7
Release year: 2010
Language in which the publication is writtenEnglish