The representation of national political freedom on web interface design: A comparison of government-based and business-oriented websites.
Description: The purpose of this study is to explore the representation of national political freedom on web interface design by using power distance, one of the culture dimensions identified by Geert Hofstede, as a measurement. This study also aims to determine if there are any differences between government-based websites and business-oriented websites in representing national political freedom. A pilot study was conducted to validate ten power distance indicators identified from previous research on cultural dimensions with the intent of establishing a measurement for determining a country's national political freedom on web content and interface design. The result showed that six out of ten proposed indicators are valid power distance indicators. The seventh indicator, symmetric layout, demonstrated that its Web representation correlates with national political freedom level. Consequently, the principal research applied these seven indicators in coding 312 websites selected from 39 countries and analyzed national political freedom represented on these websites with content analysis method. The result of two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) indicated that large differences exist in web interface design, which in turn reflects the aforementioned national political freedom. The research showed that the mean effect of freedom level between free-country group, partly-free-country group and not-free-country group was statistically significant (p = .003). So was the mean effect of website type between government-based and business-oriented websites (p = .000). Furthermore, the interaction between the freedom level and website type was also significant (p = .041). Therefore, we conclude that web interface design represents a country's political freedom and government-based websites embody more of a nation's authority and supremacy than business-oriented websites do. It is expected that this study furthers our exploration in culture dimensions on web interface design and advances our knowledge in sociological and cultural studies of the web.
Date: December 2008
Creator: Li, Rowena Liu-ping
Partner: UNT Libraries