Is Your Site Credible?
The Stanford Web Credibility Research site has some fantastic research results on credibility.
What exactly is credibility? Well, in terms of a Web site, it’s what’s perceived that matters the most. Perceived credibility includes elements of trustworthiness and expertise, according to their study, What Makes Web Sites Credible? A Report On A Large Quantitative Study:
Trustworthiness, a key element in the credibility calculus, is defined by the terms well-intentioned, truthful, unbiased, and so on. The trustworthiness dimension of credibility captures the perceived goodness or morality of the source.
Expertise, the other dimension of credibility, is defined by terms such as knowledgeable, experienced, competent, and so on. The expertise dimension of credibility captures the perceived knowledge and skill of the source. Taken together, these ideas suggest that highly credible Web sites will be perceived to have high levels of both trustworthiness and expertise.
Even seemingly small things like typos can make a difference in the perceived credibility of your site. Regularly updated, current content also makes a difference.
Here are my notes highlighting the findings from the above study.
- Design sites for a “real world” feel. Something as simple as a readily viewable address and contact information on the site helps. I know myself that it helps to see that a business has a physical address noted online.
- Make Web sites easy to use. Simple, usable features and logical site navigation make a difference.
- Show your expertise. It’s important for visitors to know your credentials, your background. Provide examples of what you know.
- Tailor the user experience. Acknowledging that the visitor has been there before or tailoring ads can increase perception of credibility.
(Note to self: So maybe people don’t hate cookies as much as we thought? This one surprised me, while the other items don’t surprise me at all.)
- Avoid overly commercial elements. Don’t mix content with commercialism. Banner ads are fine and even increase credibility when not obtrusive or excessive. (Avoid the blinking neon signs or popup ads, folks!)
- Avoid pitfalls of amateurism. Typos, broken links are highly damaging and undermine even the most dazzling sites.
The above highlights cover only one of the interesting articles and research studies available in addition to an extensive bibliography. The Stanford Web Credibility Research project is out to give us statistical proof for what we’ve otherwise had to guess. This one’s definitely a bookmark-worthy site to visit often. Well done site. Looks like a credible site to me, too.
For more resources, see also WebsiteTips.com’s section on Web Site Usability.
[link via Build Web Cred: Stanford’s Web Credibility Project shows how to build a site you can trust, Business 2.0.]