Wednesday, August 9, 2006

How Do People Evaluate a Web Site's Credibility?

A Consumer Reports WebWatch research report, prepared by the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab:

"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.... Participants seemed to make their credibility-based decisions about the people or organization behind the site based upon the site's overall visual appeal."

The study found that less than 10 percent of the participants' comments referred to the identity of the site or its operator, the site's customer service or related policies, or the site's sponsorships in assessing credibility. Perhaps most surprising, the study found that neither a site's privacy policies nor whether or not it corrected false or misleading information affected how participants evaluated credibility. "We found that when people assessed a real Web site's credibility they did not use rigorous criteria."

So, as long as you have a pretty site, you'll be seen as credible by at least about half of the consumers who see it. Nice. This is good news for ecommerce operators.

Interestingly, the effect was reversed for experts reviewing websites in their area of expertise. It's comforting to know that at least somebody's paying attention.


No comments:

Post a Comment