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Web Credibility

Oct 31, 2007
The credibility of a website includes not only how believable the content of the site is, but also how well visitors to the site believe what is on the site. When designing a website or writing web content, the credibility of the site should be a top concern. If the site lacks credibility, visitors will not be interested in the product or service available through the site. Fortunately, there are steps that designers and writers can take to increase web credibility.

Stanford University's Persuasive Technology Lab has conducted extensive research on web credibility. Through their research, they have identified a list of ten key items in website design that increase web credibility. The following are some of the items that apply strictly to the look of the site:

* Verification - Make it easy for visitors to verify the content on the website. Listing citations or sources for content, as well as providing links to third-party sites are options for simplifying verification. Regardless of whether visitors actually follow the links, their presence increases credibility.

* Real people - Show visitors that there is a real organization, with real people, behind the website. Listing a physical address or showing photos of the office and staff let visitors know that there is truly a real person involved with the products or services on the site.

* Expertise - If the members of your staff have professional credentials related to the products and services offered on the website, list the employees and their credentials. If the business is affiliated with a credible organization, provide a link on the site. A note of caution: Highlighting credentials or linking to organizations that are less than credible reduces the credibility of your site.

* Biographies - Posting the biographies of staff members helps establish web credibility by reinforcing that there are real people involved. This also helps establish a sense of trust between site visitors and employees.

* Contact information - Make sure visitors can contact you easily. List a physical address, an email address, and a phone number on the site. Contact forms serve the purpose, but many visitors prefer being able to reach a real person.

* Ease of use - If the site is not easy to use, visitors may wonder what you are trying to hide or why you are trying to confuse them. A website that is difficult to navigate and hard to use appears unprofessional.

When developing web content, make sure the content is useful. In addition, content should be well written, without obvious spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. Avoid exaggerated advertising claims, which detract from credibility, and pop-ups that annoy visitors. Keep the writing friendly and straightforward, free of slang and sensationalism. Be sure to update and revise content regularly, avoiding a loss of credibility due to potentially outdated information.

Establishing web credibility is essential to the success of a website. Visitors are more likely to purchase products or services if they trust the website and the business behind it. Using a few simple techniques in web design and content can help boost credibility, which helps boost the business behind the site.
About the Author
Brian Stocker is a writer, editor and online marketing specialist. Visit his website for more information about copy editing, creating online content and articles
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