Does content affect whether users remember that web pages were hyperlinked?

Keith S. Jones, Timothy V. Ballew, C. Adam Probst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: We determined whether memory for hyperlinks improved when they repsented relations between the contents of the Web pages. Background: J. S. Farris (2003) found that memory for hyperlinks improved when they represented relations between the contents of the Web pages. However, Farris's (2003) participants could have used their knowledge of site content to answer questions about relations that were instantiated via the site's content and its hyperlinks. Method: In Experiment 1, users navigated a Web site and then answered questions about relations that were instantiated only via content, only via hyperlinks, and via content and hyperlinks. Unlike Farris (2003), we split the latter into two sets. One asked whether certain content elements were related, and the other asked whether certain Web pages were hyperlinked. Experiment 2 replicated Experiment 1 with one modification: The questions that were asked about relations instantiated via content and hyperlinks were changed so that each question's wrong answer was also related to the question's target. Results: Memory for hyperlinks improved when they represented relations instantiated within the content of the Web pages. This was true when (a) questions about content and hyperlinks were separated (Experiment 1) and (b) each question's wrong answer was also related to the question's target (Experiment 2). Conclusion: The accuracy of users' mental representations of local architecture depended on whether hyperlinks were related to the site's content. Application: Designers who want users to remember hyperlinks should associate those hyperlinks with content that reflects the relation between the contents on the Web pages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)763-771
Number of pages9
JournalHuman Factors
Volume50
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2008

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