An Eye-Tracking Study of Website Complexity from Cognitive Load Perspective

QZ Wang, Shengyun Yang, ML Liu, Zike Cao, QG Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

170 Citations (Scopus)


Online shopping is becoming one of the most popular applications on the Internet. Websites are the important interfaces in HCI (Human–Computer Interaction). Website design significantly affects online shopping behavior. This research used eye-tracker to track the eye-movement process for 42 college students when they were surfing websites with different levels of complexity and completing simple and complex tasks respectively. The study examines how website complexity and task complexity jointly affect users' visual attention and behavior due to different cognitive loads. The study fills a research gap by examining this phenomenon from the cognitive load perspective and taking the moderate effect of task complexity into consideration. The results show that task complexity can moderate the effect of website complexity on users' visual attention and behavior. Specifically, when users conducted a simple task, fixation count and task completion time were at the highest level on the website with high complexity, while fixation duration was not significantly different on the websites with different complexity. However, when users conducted a complex task on a website with medium complexity, task completion time, fixation count, and fixation duration were all at their highest level. The load theory of attention was used to provide the explanation for the results. The findings provide guidelines for website managers and designers to maximize users' visual attention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalDecision Support Systems
Issue numberJune
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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