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Paper Week: Website Credibility

How would you feel if this blog had more ads than content, opened every link as a popup, and had grammatical errors roaming like wild beasts freely in my posts? I wouldn’t seem credible to you, would I? Today’s paper deals with just that: credibility. Don’t forget the comic strip at the end of this post. Also, if you’re interested, I’m listing references to all the papers at the end of the posts (below the comic strips). Feel free to look them up (Google Scholar is a good place to start).

Paper: What Makes Web Sites Credible? A Report on a Large Quantitative Study (reference at the bottom of this post)

What in the world did they do?

The authors surveyed hundreds of people to find out what they thought made a website more credible or less credible.

What’s so cool about that?

These guys came up with dozens of items relating to website credibility for users to rate. It was cool to see which items people perceived as making a site more or less credible.

Did anything worthwhile come out of it?

The authors gave some guidelines at the end of the paper on how to design credible websites. They were:

- Design websites to convey the “real world? aspect of the organization (let people know you actually exist).
- Make websites easy to use (unless you’re a government office).
- Include markers of expertise (people may actually believe you).
- Include markers of trustworthiness (linking to and getting linked by other credible websites seems to be helpful).
- Tailor the user experience (makes people feel that the experience is more personal).
- Avoid overly commercial elements on a website (awh… I was thinking that 10 more ads would have made this blog livelier).
- Avoid the pitfalls of amateurism (OMG UR NOT SERIOUZ, ARE U?).

Why should I care?

There are a lot of shady websites out there. And sometimes it’s just sad to see some perfectly legitimate websites being avoided because their design does not make them look credible. If you’re a designer, make sure to remember these guidelines. If you’re just a web surfer, be on your guard when you visit websites that stray far from these guidelines.

Now on to the comic strip! (click on the image to enlarge it)


Reference: B. J. Fogg , Jonathan Marshall , Othman Laraki , Alex Osipovich , Chris Varma , Nicholas Fang , Jyoti Paul , Akshay Rangnekar , John Shon , Preeti Swani , Marissa Treinen, What makes Web sites credible?: a report on a large quantitative study, Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems, p.61-68, March 2001, Seattle, Washington, United States


That's interesting and also makes a lot of sense.

I often avoid stores online that look designed by 13 year olds... I guess that to me helps make a site credible, it's aesthetic. Also user reviews and BizRate help make it trustworthy, too.

Website scams are definitely something to be careful about. But to me the worst are shady people in legitimate websites, like some ebay sellers. Someone should research what makes an ebay seller credible; I've learned the hard way that a good feedback score is not all.

Good tips. I try to use these on my sites.