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Well-designed web information architecture (IA) supports the findability and usability of web content, with the wider aim of ensuring efficient, positive user experiences. Accordingly, this study investigates cultural differences in how web visitors allocate their attention to the four main IA components: labeling, organization, navigation, and searching. We conducted a user study with 33 student participants from Taiwan and the United States, comprising observation tasks, sketch sessions, and questionnaires regarding participants’ attention allocation, as well as background questionnaires covering demographic, cultural, and personal factors. Our results indicated that, in general, the less complicated content a website displayed, the more aware the participants were of IA and its components. We also found that the US participants usually paid more attention to text labels on a webpage, whereas their Taiwanese counterparts were more likely to evenly distribute their attention across both text and image objects. These results shed new light on the cultural specificity of how existing IA is interpreted in global web communities, and thus have important implications for future IA design.
Keywords: Information Architecture, Web Design, Cultural dimensions