CXL’s Digital Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree review [part-8]

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Hi, this is my 8th part of the review on Psychology and Persuasion Minidegree and I am very excited as I am coming closer to finish this minidegree. If you didn’t gone through my previous posts yet, please do check them, I tried my best to cover only those topics that I think will help readers in improving over Psychology and persuasion skills as well as help them understand the minidegree and what CXL is offering.

[Part-1] [Part-2] [Part-3] [Part-4] [Part-5] [Part-6] [Part-7]

If you are interested in consumer psychology and persuasion as a whole, I highly suggest you to enroll in this minidegree, and I am not trying to promote it, You can thank me later :)

So, lets talk about what I am going to write today. I am going to share a very important topic today, which is Web Credibility, along with that I am going to share factors proposed by BJ Fogg and his colleagues at Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab on Web Credibility. Let’s start with defining credibility.

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What is Credibility?

Well, according to Cambridge dictionary its the quality of being trusted and believed in. When we say a person or resource is credible, that simply means we trust it and believe that its true to the best of our belief.

Credibility doesn’t reside in any person, piece of information or object, but instead is perceived by people. Everyone see things differently and develop a perception based on personal beliefs and knowledge.

Thus, credibility simply means perception of people towards something. But, its not only about perception, credibility is more than that.

Let’s discuss Web Credibility?

BJ Fogg in his white paper “The Elements of Computer Credibility” defined web credibility as believability.

What is “credibility”? Simply put, credibility can be defined as believability. Credible people are believable people; credible information is believable information. In fact, some languages use the same word for these two English terms. Throughout our research we have found that believability is a good synonym for credibility in virtually all cases. — BJ Fogg (The Elements of Computer Credibility white paper)

Almost all credible scholars defined the basis of credibility as:

  • Perceived quality
  • Multiple dimensions or components

As discussed earlier, the perception of a person plays and important role in understanding the credibility of something. But, experts believe that multiple dimensions of the person, object or information in question are observed closely and simultaneously by someone to evaluate the actual perception of credibility.

Although experts have a varied opinion on what dimensions are observed, but most agree on two dimensions:

  • Trustworthiness
  • Expertise

This simply means that, while developing a perception towards something a person at least consider observing trustworthiness as well as expertise, and on the basis of these observations a person develops its understanding and perception of the situation.

Trustworthiness can be defined as the ability to be relied on as honest or truthful. BJ Fogg in his white paper defined it as:

Trustworthiness, a key element in the credibility calculus, is defined by the terms well-intentioned, truthful, unbiased, and so on. The trustworthiness dimension of credibility captures the perceived goodness or morality of the source. Rhetoricians in ancient Greece used the terms ethos to describe this concept.

And Expertise simply means, having expert skill or knowledge in a particular field or area of study. BJ Fogg defined it as:

Expertise, the other dimension of credibility, is defined by terms such as knowledgeable, experienced, competent, and so on. The expertise dimension of credibility captures the perceived knowledge and skill of the source.

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BJ Fogg’s Credibility Factors

BJ Fogg and his colleagues did research at Stanford University’s Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, known as Stanford Web Credibility Research. In that research which lasted for approximately 3 years and was done on around 4500 people, they identified 10 such factors that repeatedly proven to increase perceived credibility in websites. These factors are also known as Stanford Guidelines for Web Credibility. I am going to give a brief introduction on all of them below:

Easy Verification

Make sure it is easy and effortless for the visitor to verify the accuracy of the information and fact on your website. Following points may help:

  • Use third party support by provide citations, references or source material.
  • Use links to back your claims.
  • Avoid displaying unverifiable information.
  • Never claim something falsely.

Show You Are Real

Show your visitor that there is a real organization behind your website. The easiest way suggested by Stanford Guideline for web credibility is to list your address. This boosts your credibility, along with that some other factors such as posting office picture, staff picture or even listing your membership with any credible organization can also help. Following points may help:

  • Share your organization’s story and vision with your website visitors.
  • You can also show your founders story or history of your organization.

Prove Expertise

Highlighting the expertise of your organization, the products or service you are specialized in will definitely going to help. Show your authority in your domain by displaying your expertise, this can be done by either showing whole organizations expertise or displaying the expertise of your staff. You can also show your affiliation with strong authority entities. Following points may help:

  • Show certificates, degrees, organization you either belong to or worked with.
  • ISO, Star rating, professional association or affiliation also helps.
  • Show experience and specialization of founder and staff.
  • You can also focus on displaying academic as well as professional achievements of the staff.

Real and Trustworthy Humans

Show your website visitors that honest and trustworthy people stand behind your website. This point extends on the previous point where we need to show that we are real people. Here we are talking about finding a way to convey the trustworthiness of the people behind the site. This can be done by showing for example, personal stories of the people, or hobbies, interests, likes etc. Following points may help:

  • Show credible and decent pictures of founders and employees.
  • List personal stories.
  • Display personal details like favorite TV show, music, pet animal etc
  • These things helps in initiating Unity factor.

Easy To Contact

Make it very easy for your visitors to contact you. You can do so by clearly displaying your contact information. One thing to note here is that, not all people are comfortable with one medium of contact, so consider listing as much contact methods as you can support like phone, fax, email, mail, social media, messaging applications etc. Following points may help:

  • Offer people multiple ways to contact.
  • Everyone likes different ways to connect and communicate
  • Try making it real easy to contact you.
  • You can also try live chat.

Appropriate Design

You need to design your site to look professional or at least fit for your purpose. You can do that by keeping an eye on the fonts, images, graphics use use. Also, take care of consistency and layout issues. Following points may help:

  • Use industry standards for designing a website.
  • Don’t jumble design like using a creative design that may suits a creative agency for corporate website, etc.

Easy To Use

Try making your site as easy to use as you can for your visitors, also work on its usefulness. Avoid going to the extreme while designing your website, always consider your visitors or users first. Following points may help:

  • Design it for the users
  • Ease trump trust
  • If your website is difficult to use or you are forcing people to think, you are missing on opportunities.
  • Don’t make your website visitors or users think, make your website that obvious.

Update Often

Try updating your website’s content often or at least show people that the content has been reviewed recently. This is because people tend to trust sites which show that the content they display is fresh or updated recently. Following points may help:

  • Try keeping the information current
  • Update as often as you can
  • If you show that you or your user update often, this builds trust
  • It also attracts SEO bonus
  • Try showing your fresh content first

Limit Promotion / Ads

Limit or if possible totally avoid any promotion or ads. If you can’t totally avoid ads, try making it clearly distinguish from other content. Following points may help:

  • Try limiting promotions / ads on your website
  • Avoid any if possible
  • Focus on good and useful content without any interruption or click baits
  • People show more trust towards websites without promotions / ads
  • Clearly separate the sponsored content
  • Avoid popup or slide in ads
  • Try to be clear, direct and sincere

Avoid All Errors

Try avoiding errors of any kind, however small it is. Typographical errors or broken links hurt a websites credibility. Also, make sure your website stays up and in running state all the time. Following points may help:

  • Avoid technical errors
  • Avoid misspellings
  • Avoid any kind of bugs in the code
  • Try keeping website free from resource not found, 404, 501, incorrect external link, etc errors
  • Keep your website up and running all the time, you can use third party service to keep eye on it.
Photo by Howie R on Unsplash

Thank you for reading till end, I hope this will clear your understanding on web credibility factors. Try implementing it for your website to improve the performance and credibility of your website. Do let me know what do you think about these factors and credibility in general in the comments. Until part 9, take care, bye bye.



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A marketer who can code. I like writing mostly about web dev, marketing, psychology and reviewing courses & tools. My opinions are my own w/o any affiliation.