The Role of Website Visual Design in Predicting Consumers' Purchase Intentions: An Empirical Study in a B2C Online Environment

The Role of Website Visual Design in Predicting Consumers' Purchase Intentions: An Empirical Study in a B2C Online Environment

Abubaker A AB Shaouf (Al-Zintan University, Libya)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/IJOM.2020100101
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This study aims to investigate the effects of website visual design on purchase intention in B2C environments. This purpose was addressed through the use of The Stimulus-Organism-Response (S-O-R) model, in which a number of hypotheses were drawn. The proposed model in this study was examined was examined through an empirical study involving 532 online shoppers using Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) techniques. The results of this study indicated that consumers' perceptions of website visual design influence website trust and website attitude, which in turn positively boost online purchase intention. The results also revealed a partial mediating effect of website trust and attitude in the relationship between website visual design and purchase intention. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed in the paper.
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In recent years, website visual appeal has attracted a great deal of attention due to its potential effect on online shoppers' responses (Ettis, 2017; Lee, Ahn, & Park, 2015; Nakamura, Kajiyama, & Ouchi, 2019; Prashar, Vijay, & Parsad, 2017; Shaouf, Lü, & Li, 2016; Thomas, Kavya, & Monica, 2018; Wilson, Keni, & Tan, 2019).

Although studies of website quality and its consequences are widespread in the literature, no previous study has empirically tested a perspective that links users’ perceptions of website visual design to online purchase intention through a cognitive process (Nakamura et al., 2019; Prashar et al., 2017). Therefore, this study aims to extend the growing body of literature by addressing this issue in B2C environments. In this regard, Desai (2019) argued that enhanced knowledge in this area will be of great importance to web designers and will ultimately have theoretical and commercial values. As pointe out by Bleier, Colleen, and Harmeling (2018, p. 98): “Creating effective online customer experiences through well-designed product web pages is critical to success”.

Online purchase intention (OPI) has been shown to be a good predictor of purchasing behavior (Bleier et al., 2018; Pavlou & Fygenson, 2006). That is to say, online purchasing rates of a product or service will be higher among consumers who state positive intentions to buy the product or service than among those with weaker intentions. Thus, e-vendors need to understand as much as possible about consumers’ purchase intention for predicting consumer buying behavior (Martins, Costa, Oliveira, Goncalves, & Branco, 2019).

Recent studies suggested that online purchase intention may be affected by the quality of website, signifying the significant role of online stimuli in guiding online behavior (Bleier et al., 2018; Desai, 2019; Prashar et al., 2017). However, the available evidence suggests that adopting e-commerce is a mostly cognitive decision, which means that cognitive experiences play a significant role in the effect of marketing stimuli on shopping outcomes (Fang et al., 2014; Punyatoya, 2019). This view is more consistent with many theoretical models of consumer behavior, including the theory of reasoned action (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975) and the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen, 1985), which suggest that behavioral intentions can only be transferred to actual behaviors if an individual is cognitively encouraged.

In online environments, where shoppers suffer from the lack of personal interactions with e-vendors, trust in the website (as a salient belief about the website) has been identified to be a major contributing factor in triggering consumers' transaction intentions (Bleier et al., 2018; Elwalda, Lü, & Ali, 2016; Rodrigue & Fernandez, 2017; Wu, Ke, & Nguyen, 2018). Nevertheless, recent empirical evidence shows that the presence of online trust alone may not be adequate for encouraging consumer transaction intentions (Punyatoya, 2019). Thus, it seems to be timely for e-commerce research to move beyond the single role of cognitive effects (e.g., e-trust) and to investigate multiple cognitive responses such as attitudinal measurements. This view is supported by Hsu, Chuang, and Hsu (2014), Kaur, Lal, and Bedi, 2017 and Wu et al., (2018) who investigated the online shopping process and found e-trust and attitude to be the two key determinants of shopping outcomes.

Against this background, there is enough motivation for this study to develop a research model that includes online trust and attitude to better understand how elements of website visual design influence consumers’ purchase intention. By considering website trust and attitude, the current study will provide a new explanation of how site stimuli boost behavioral intentions in B2C settings (Desai, 2019; Hsu et al., 2014).

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