Credibility online

Discussion articles

  • A matter of trust: what users want from web sites
    "Based on responses from a telephone survey of 1,500 U.S. Internet users, less than one third (29%) say they trust Web sites that sell products or services. And just 33 percent say they trust Web sites that provide advice about such purchases or services."
    (Consumer Reports WebWatch)

  • An examination of factors that affect the credibility of online health information (PDF)
    "The goal of this study is to examine the effect of street address and external links on perceptions of credibility of a Web page. This study attempts to determine how readers process these cues by drawing on key theories in both technical communication and psychology."
    (K Freeman & J Spyridakis, Technical Communications)

  • Beyond web usability: web credibility
    "Web credibility is all common sense - you just don't tend to think about this stuff... here are five guidelines for making a credible website."
    (Trenton Moss, WebDevTips)

  • Guiding principles for providing 'remember me' personalization
    "Our earlier user research revealed the need for greater personalization and helped us understand customer attitudes towards privacy. From there, we sought to build customer trust and loyalty by addressing concerns about privacy and security in every aspect of the user experience. In creating the Guiding Principles outlined here, we conducted a thorough analysis of eight major websites and then merged the findings with what we already knew. These principles apply specifically to 'remember me' personalization."
    (Meg Peters, Boxes and Arrows)

  • Is your content credible and trustworthy?
    "Credibility and trustworthiness are major issues for people searching for information. A UCLA survey found that only 52.8 percent of people found most or all of the information online to be credible in 2002, down from 58 percent in 2001, and 55 percent in 2000."
    (Gerry McGovern, New Thinking)

  • Is your intranet trusted by staff?
    "It is widely recognised that an intranet must be trusted, if it is to be regularly used by staff across an organisation. This briefing looks at the issue of trust, and presents some simple steps that can be taken to further build staff trust in the intranet."
    (James Robertson, CM Briefing)

  • Stanford guidelines for web credibility
    "We have compiled 10 guidelines for building the credibility of a website. These guidelines are based on three years of research that included over 4,500 people."
    (Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab)

  • Technology and trust: the evolution of e-commerce
    "More than having a negative impact on the brands of offending companies, poorly implemented e-commerce actually serves to impair the industry as a whole, reducing trust in the technology and medium."
    (Dirk Knemeyer, Thread Intelligence)


  • Captology notebook
    A blog from the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab who research computers as persuasive technology.

Research articles

  • Expert vs online consumers
    "Consumers are faced with important decisions about the information sources that they choose to believe for making important health or financial decisions. Do these everyday people know which Web sites are really credible, especially in vital areas such as finance and health? What do industry experts say about the credibility of sites in their fields? And, finally, how do the experts' assessments compare to how the average person decides which sites to trust?"
    (Julianne Stanford, Ellen R Tauber & BJ Fogg, Consumer Reports WebWatch)

  • From interactions to transactions: designing the trust experience for business-to-consumer electronic commerce
    "The first objective of this research was to build up substantive knowledge about which specific factors make customers trust e-commerce websites. The second objective was to build up and validate methodological knowledge in the form of tools that HCI practitioners can use to design and evaluate trust-shaping factors in e-commerce websites. On the basis of literature on trust and e-commerce surveys, a first model of trust in e-commerce (MoTEC) was developed. Through user tests, the initial model was refined to increase its descriptive power. The final MoTEC model contains four main dimensions."
    (Florian N Egger)

  • How do people evaluate a website's credibility?
    "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."
    (BJ Fogg et al, Consumer Reports WebWatch)

  • The effect of top-level domains and advertisements on health web site credibility
    "Health-information Web-site providers should select domains purposefully when they can, especially if they must accept on-site advertising. Credibility perceptions may not be invariant or stable, but rather are sensitive to topic and context. Future research may employ these findings in order to compare other forms of health-information delivery to optimal Web-site features."
    (Joseph B Walther et al, Journal of Medical Internet Research)

  • Stanford-Makovsy web credibility study 2002: investigating what makes web sites credible today (PDF)
    "This document is a preliminary report of our latest effort in understanding Web credibility, a project we did in collaboration with Makovsky & Company, a New York-based public relations agency."
    (BJ Fogg et al, Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab)

  • Web credibility research: a method for online experiments and early study results (PDF)
    "Through iterative design and testing, we developed a procedure for conducting online experiments. Using this research method, we conducted two recent studies on Web credibility. The data from the first study suggest that Web banner ads reduce the perceived credibility of a Web page’s content. The data from the second study show that attribution elements—in this case, author photographs—can also affect the credibility of Web content. This research method and our early results have implications for both HCI researchers and Web site designers."
    (BJ Fogg et al, Proceedings of ACM CHI 2001 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems)

  • What makes a web site credible? A report on a large quantitative study (PDF)
    "Over the course of a year our team studied the impact of a broad range of elements on perceived Web site credibility."
    (BJ Fogg et al, Proceedings of ACM CHI 2001 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems)