Credibility in Web Design
 
In this learning portfolio I will be focussing on credibility in web design, whilst exploring various external examples of credibility. B.J Fogg, the author of Credibility and the World Wide Web, explores credibility as a key attribute in evaluating sources. In relation to a website, credibility in simpler terms can be defined as believability; therefore credibility is a perception of quality. The credibility of a source is objective, with the majority of users agreeing when a website is and is not credible. Trustworthiness is a primary element within credibility. A trustworthy source will appear to be fair and unbiased e.g., a web article that tells both sides of the story is an honest source, as it in turn will argue against their own interest. An evidently non-biased source will generally be perceived as credible, and be more influential. Credibility within a web site is important in persuading the user that the information presented is valid (Fogg, 2003).
 
Evaluating credibility will allow a user to distinguish a legitimate website from a hoax one. As we live in the information age we spend much of our time on the internet, in turn receiving much of our information online. The high computer usage of generation Y should mean that we are able to acknowledge a credible site. “Others advocate that Web surfers examine who the author is, how timely the content is, and how the content compares with similar content from trusted sources, such as experts in the field” (Fogg, 2003 pp.151). 
 
As a student the credibility of web sources can have a great affect on our research and studies. If we are not able to identify a credible source we become vulnerable to false and misleading information. If the knowledge that we obtain is not credible it will not be applicable within an educational environment, thus the research for an essay or exam may be carried out to no prevail (Fogg, 2003).

 

  
Wikipedia
  
Wikipedia is not accepted as a credible source for academic assignments as it is evidently apart of Web 2.0, a system in which the user has power to control the information of which a Wikipedia article displays. Critics of Wikipedia have accused the source of being bias in relation to the affirming the discourse of popular culture. Wikipedia is widely noted for its vulnerability to vandalism, which in turn leads to false information (Flanagin & Metzger, 2008). As a pastime I would frequently change and add information into a Wikipedia article that, although possessing an element of truth, was completely subjective, and dangerous if referred to for academic purposes.
  
Wikipedia, n.d.
  
  
My own sabotaging of a Wikipedia site, makes it is easy to see that any information received from Wikipedia can not be accepted as credible or reliable. If I were to complete an assignment on Nazism, the information absorbed from Wikipedia would have to be further researched in verifying its truth. If Wikipedia states that Adolf Hitler’s uncle was Jewish, I would first have to find an academic (credible) source, which also withholds the same statement. It is possible that this statement, which has been implemented into my assignment, may have been added by a seven year old child. If a source with similar information cannot be found, I will be submitting an untrustworthy document. When my Tutor marks my assignment they may see this statement, decide to research the information themselves, and in turn deem that my assignment is not credible.

    

The Future 

   

Peoples perception of Web credibility has changed as it has now become increasingly easier to set up a non-profit website. This in turn affects the value of a website.  

  

So what makes websites credible and what is changing as the web evolves?   
 
· Aesthetics has now become a dominant fundamental in relation to web design. Aesthetics contributes to credibility therefore; it is an essential element for a website to possess.   

· A site that only has writing, with no chunking, balance or consistency, and is generally set out in a boring format, will be blatantly ignored by users.   

· Users are becoming increasingly intolerable toward websites that do not provide current fundamentals such as: information which is scannable, easy to use hyperlinks or navigational elements, and obvious typographic dominance.   

· A badly dressed businessman, even if he excels in his occupation, is not credible. If he were to approach my door dressed in thongs and a singlet telling me he could sell my home for 1 million dollars, I would slam the door on him within seconds.   

· The above example can be applied to a website in terms of credibility, and modern day user behaviour. A badly designed website will not fit the Aesthetic expectations of the user, and thus the website will be deserted within seconds.   

· There may be nothing wrong with the information on the site, however, just like a badly dressed businessman, if it’s not presented in a suitable manner, it will inevitably be deemed as unprofessional, and in turn untrustworthy.   

Four Types of Web Credibility are:   

Presumed Credibility- The department of transport website possesses the Australian Coat of Arms, with ‘wa.gov.au’ signifying it is goverment related and presumably credible. 

Coate of Arms, n.d. 

 

Reputed credibility – The Chartered Accountants website holds the award as the number one business forum of 2010, inturn possessing the company and website with reputed credibility.  

C & A, n.d.  

   

   

Surface Credibility-The ninemsn website is professionally deigned with continuous news updates.ninemsn, n.d. 

   

Earned credibility- When I log in to the Commonwealth Bank website I am personally addressed. The bank efficiently answers customer questions and updates transaction records.  

commonwealth bank, n.d.  

  

   

References:   

Credibility. [n.d.].Retrieved May 27, 2010, from the Changing minds.org: http://changingminds.org/explanations/theories/credibility.htm   

Flanagin, A., & Metzger, M. (2008). Digital media, youth, and credibility. Massachusetts: Institute of Technology.   

Fogg, B. J. (2003). Credibility and the World Wide Web. In Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do (pp. 122-125). Amsterdam: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.    

Fogg, B. J. (2003). Credibility and the World Wide Web. In Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do (pp. 147-181). Amsterdam: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.   

n.d. Chartered Accountants. Retrieved 27 May from: http://www.charteredaccountants.com.au/ 

n.d. Coate of Arms. Retrieved 27 May from:http://www.dpi.wa.gov.au/ 

n.d. Commonwealth Bank. Retrieved 27 May from:http://www.commbank.com.au/ 

n.d. ninemsn. Retrieved 27 May from:http://ninemsn.com.au/ 

n.d. Wikipedia. Retrieved 27 May from:http://blogs.toonboom.com/professional/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/wikipedia-logo.png 

Rogers, E. (1995). Diffusion of innovations.  New York: Free Press.   

Stanford Web Credibility Research. [n.d.].Retrieved May 27, 2010, from the Web Credibility Project: http://credibility.stanford.edu/