Publication Date

Summer 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Human Factors/Ergonomics


Sean Laraway


Consumer Perception, Design, E-commerce, Usability, Value, White Space

Subject Areas

Psychology; Information science; Design


As e-commerce becomes an increasingly large industry, questions remain about how the isolated effects of design elements on websites influence consumer perceptions and purchasing behavior. This study used a quantitative approach to measuring the effect of a ubiquitous element of design, white space, on the perception of the monetary value of individual items. White space is a key component of design and website usability, yet it has been shown to be related to the perception of luxury. Little is known about the direct relationship between manipulation of white space and the outcomes on consumer perceptions of value in an e-commerce context. This study found no significant difference between two levels of total white space area (large vs. small) measured by participants' perceived cost of items (chairs). In contrast, while holding total white space constant, the effect of white space distance between images was significant for males but not for females. Additionally, no significant relationship between gender and frequency of online shopping behavior was found, χ2(1) = 3.19, p = .07, ϕ = .17. Gender and amount of time spent per month online were significantly related, χ2(1) = 6.21, p = .013, ϕ = .24.