Thursday, 15 Jan, 2009 Science
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Website Design Influences the Way Children Process Data

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A research published in the journal entitled "Psychology and Marketing" focused on analyzing the effect of website design on how children process information. The results of the study showed that information, processed and memorized by children, depends a lot of the type of interface.

In order to perform their study scientists examined the effect of website design on 200 boys and girls aged between 7 and 13. Before the study, researchers built 4 websites. Each of the constructed websites differed in navigational aids and learning cues. In particular each website included either a map, a content list, a map with learning cues or a content list with learning cues.

The so-called learning cues represented pop-up windows created to underline specific information as a person leaves a web page. The study participants were arbitrarily assigned to the four websites.

Scientists discovered that the level of search accuracy and data recall among children aged between 7 and 9 directly depended on the type of navigational help used, be it a map or simply a content list, with or without learning cues. This group of children enjoyed surfing thorough a website with a map. This is due to the fact that they are likely to process data completely. However, children aged between 10 and 13 showed more accuracy in using a content list. This is because they tend to choose specific information, overlooking irrelevant stuff.

Moreover, scientists used learning cues in order to highlight the learning of web data in younger children. Learning cues were used to focus on specific information to be memorized. They helped children aged between 7 and 9 to recall the information. At the same time older children could process this data without the aid of the learning cues.

The authors of the research say: "Our study begins to apply basic principles of children's information processing to website design". They mention that websites should feature a map in order to make data search easier and learning cues to help children learn specific web content.

"Websites should be customized to facilitate the abilities of children of different ages", scientists say.

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