The Cultural Context of Web Genres: Content vs. Style

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Badre, Albert N.
Laskowski, Sharon
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The question we raise here is whether what is culturally established for a given genre in the brick and mortar world applies equally on the World Wide Web. Can we effectively use the styles of one genre to design the site of another genre? Are we wedded to the culturally established attributes of the real world when designing for the Web? We compared users' performance and preference for shopping-vs.-news-styled sites. We found that on the whole users liked the "shopping" layout better than the news layout, even when viewing news content. This was especially surprising in light of the fact that our users had so much more experience with news sites over shopping sites. This perhaps shows how popluar the shopping style is in our culture. People chose News as Shopping as their favorite site, even though it was difficult to use. People who preferred News as Shopping did better on both News as Shopping and News as News that those who preferred News as News. This suggests a potential relationship between performance on the World Wide Web and preference for the shopping style.
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