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Experts warn key IT failures in websites may have negative effects on the nervous system


According to a report published today by the Social Issues Research Centre and commissioned by Rackspace Managed Hosting, the UK’s most recommended web hosting specialist,* there are five key IT flaws in the way websites are designed and hosted that may lead to harmful health effects.

The study combined data from a YouGov poll of 2,500 people with physiological tests on a separate sample of internet users, who were asked to find information from a number of different websites. The tests measured the physical and physiological reactions to website experiences, looking at brainwaves, heart-rate fluctuations, muscle tension and skin conductivity. Results indicated that badly designed and hosted websites cause stress and anger, leading to the term “Mouse Rage Syndrome” or MRS being coined.

The Top 5 website failures that lead to Mouse Rage:
- Slow to load pages
- Confusing / difficult to navigate layouts
- Excessive pop-ups
- Unnecessary advertising
- Site unavailability

Damaging health and reputations:
The test results indicate that users want Google-style speed, function and accuracy from all of the websites they visit, and they want it now. Unfortunately, many websites and their dedicated servers cannot deliver this. The result - consumers seeking alternative websites in a bid to avoid undue stress and Mouse Rage.

The SIRC report states: “When the test participants came to the ‘problem’ sites that we had deliberately chosen as comparisons for the ‘Perfect Website’ evaluation exercise (a prior study), responses changed quite dramatically in most, but not all, cases. While a few managed to stay calm and simply ‘rise above’ the problems presented by crazy graphics and slow-loading pages, others showed very distinct signs of stress and anxiety”

The report went on to state “Some changes in muscle tension were quite dramatic…While this was happening, the participant’s faces also tensed visibly, with the teeth clenched together and the muscles around the mouth becoming taught. These are physically uncomfortable situations that reduce concentration and increase feelings of anger.”

The first signs of Mouse Rage:
- Heart rate quickens
- Increased sweating
- Furious clicking of the mouse
- Simultaneous clicking and cursing the screen
- Bashing the mouse

Jacques Greyling, managing director of Rackspace Managed Hosting comments, “We believe that businesses that are selling online have a duty to their customers to ensure that the experience is as stress free as possible. The public has shown that it wants to buy online, as it has been forecast that over £4m** an hour will be spent in the UK in the run up to Christmas. The message is clear, businesses need to provide simple and easy to navigate layouts, whilst focusing on speed and uptime.”

Notes to editors:

About Rackspace Managed Hosting:
A recognised leader in the global managed dedicated hosting market, Rackspace Managed Hosting is a world-class service organisation delivering enterprise-level Web infrastructure and managed services to businesses of all sizes. Serving more than 10,000 customers across seven data centers worldwide, Rackspace integrates the industry’s best technologies for each customer’s need backed by a 100 per cent network uptime guarantee. Founded in 1998, the company has received numerous awards for its brand of customer service known as Fanatical Support™ including the Unisys/Management Today 2005 Service Excellence Award.

For more information, visit the site or call 0800 085 3973.

* Vanson Bourne research, May 2006
** IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group)

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