Evaluating a Web Site’s Credibility
Thanks to my friend Bryant ,Â who runsÂ the very funny site Innocent EnglishÂ for sending meÂ a head’s upÂ aboutÂ this excellentÂ StanfordÂ UniversityÂ Persuasive Technology LabÂ studyÂ called How Do People Evaluate a Web Site’s Credibility?
Â The data showed that the average consumer paid far more attention to the superficial aspects of a site, such as visual cues, than to its content. For example, nearly half of all consumers (or 46.1%) in the study assessed the credibility of sites based in part on the appeal of the overall visual design of a site, including layout, typography, font size and color schemes.
You can check out the complete study here.
Here’s their overall analysis of credibility comments:
- Design Look – 46.1%
- Information Design/Structure – 28.5%
- Information Focus – 25.1%
- Company Motive – 15.5%
- Information Usefulness – 14.8%
- Information Accuracy – 14.3%
- Name Recognition and Reputation – 14.1%
- Advertising – 13.8%
- Information Bias – 11.6%
- Writing Tone – 9.0%
- Identity of Site Operator – 8.8%
- Site Functionality – 8.6%
- Customer Service – 6.4%
- Past Experience with Site – 4.6%
- Information Clarity – 3.7%
- Performance on Test by User – 3.6%
- Readability – 3.6%
- Affiliations – 3.4%
This summary list has been quoted from ebook-designer.com. Overall, this is a fascinating study. For a site that relies on AdSense I don’t think credibility is such a big issue [it may even be a detriment!], but for a more traditional business model, one in which you are building a relationship with your customer prior to selling, then it is obviously a huge factor.
It shouldn’t be a surprise really. It’s about the same as a real estate agent, the first thing on their business shopping list: a Mercedes, because it’s instant credibility. Same thingÂ online. It’s a superficial world. The study goes on to say that as a result of this study thatÂ Consumer Reports WebWatch must endeavor to educate people so they don’t make these kinds of decisions based only on perceptions.
Personally, I think they’ll have a difficult time with that one. Better to face reality and hire a good designer.