Destination message design on travel and tourism information Web sites
Charles W. Lane, University of Florida, United States
University of Florida . Awarded
The rapid expansion of the Internet has changed the way people communicate. The Internet is the primary source of information in many aspects of our lives, including travel planning. Tourists expect to be able to gather online the information they need to plan their travel.
Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVBs) exist to provide travelers with information about destinations. Unlike the sites of airlines, hotels, and attractions, the primary mission of most CVB web sites is not sales. Instead, a CVB web site informs users about the location it represents.
Literature from instructional message design and learning theory research supports the notion that an effective informational web site, such as that of a CVB, should employ supportive message design elements to reduce the cognitive load of the user to enhance information acquisition and processing. Evaluating web sites according to instructional message design principles is a method of appraising web site effectiveness in enhancing information acquisition and processing; however, in the commercial sector, such techniques have not typically been applied.
The purpose of this study was to examine the use of supportive message design elements on CVB web sites worldwide. A content analysis of 588 sites was conducted to determine which elements were used and to what extent. Statistical analyses were conducted to determine if there were differences among regions of the world in the use of effective design principles.
Results indicated that many message design practices were nearly ubiquitous on CVB web sites. Web sites were more effective in their use of visual display elements than in their use of content presentation elements. Message design elements can be reliably grouped into four dimensions: graphics presentation, text presentation, graphics/text support, and visual text. Regional differences were found on nine message design elements and one underlying factor. Expert web developers considered functionality and aesthetics to be the most essential features, revealing a lack of understanding in the field of the importance of the design of message content delivery. Results are discussed in the context of the theoretical framework and previous research, and recommendations for practice and for future research are provided.
Lane, C.W. Destination message design on travel and tourism information Web sites. Ph.D. thesis, University of Florida.
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