Prettier sites more likely to catch roving surfers

Updated: Jul 13, 2011, 13:33 PM IST

Sydney: Just like beautiful women make fantastic con people because they earn men`s trust very quickly, a similar thing can be seen with websites.

A roving surfer is more likely to trust ``pretty`` sites over those with less visual appeal, a new research has found.

Lead author of the study, Brent Coker, said the increase in website trust, which had developed over the last five years, was directly related to a rise in attractive websites.

``The internet has [become] 20 per cent prettier in the last five years,`` the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Dr Coker, an internet marketing lecturer at the University of Melbourne, as saying.

As part of his study, he created a formula to measure users`` online behaviour and found many people judged the trustworthiness of a website in the same way they decided to trust a new acquaintance.

``We form trust with people who are attractive because we need to form partnerships to have offspring,`` he said.

“In the same way face symmetry defined human attractiveness, a balanced website was seen as more appealing.

But the increase in website appeal had led to a 30 per cent drop in site loyalty over the last five years.

``In the past, people would stick with a website like Amazon. Now, because of [an increase in] attractiveness, they are shopping around,`` he said.

But a site`s popularity was not all about looks.

``The biggest source of frustration for internet users is irrelevant information,`` Dr Coker said.

The study will be presented at the 2011 World Congress in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, and Applied Computing in Las Vegas next week.