Credible website design is not just a logo. The word "credible" is not a philosophical catchword. "Credible" means what it says. A credible website is believable and trustworthy. The very structure and visible look of the website lend to its authenticity.
Credibility as Trustworthiness:
Author and web designer Jason Cranford Teague was the first to coin the term Credible Web Design and put it into a useful theoretical context. Teague posted nine principles of website design in his "roadmap for credibility-based user experience design."
- Keep promises. When your interface is inconsistent, it is equivalent to a broken promise. Users are led to expect one thing and the site delivers another.
- Show results. Use feedback throughout the site to keep users in the know. The site should respond intuitively to the users’ actions.
- Know your voice. There should be a consistency to the design that exhibits the style and the "voice" of the designer.
- Respect context. Prevent confusion by knowing how the user will interact with the site. Where possible understand where, when, how and with what device users will enter the site and design accordingly.
- Transition change. Change transitions carefully. If you don't make transitions effectively, users will lose their place, and lose trust in the site.
- Guide. Don't dictate. Don't try to trick users. Inform them gently through the site so users will miss nothing.
- Show. Then tell. Take advantage of the tendency to see patterns first. Offer visual identification followed by an explanation. Present photos with your statements. When people see pictures they are more likely to believe you.
- Make it simple, not simplistic. Reduce the confusion as much as possible. Try to make sites that don't take too much thinking and figuring out.
- Always leave them wanting more. A major principle of sales and entertainment.
A website is always a combination of work and entertainment. It should never be a drudgery to go through it. It should be made with wit, aesthetics, and charm.
Credibility as Believability:
There is a more sober meaning of the word "credible" when it comes to websites. The internet is full of misinformation, ignorance posing as knowledge, and biases designed toward unstated commercial interests. Users will need to know if the statements made in the website can be trusted, whether the stated facts are verifiable. The great democracy of the internet is a dangerous place because no one can really tell if casually made statements are true. Many people are misled by plausible things they read online.
To make your website as credible as possible certain cautions should be taken.
- Make sure your website contains a listed author who is willing to stand beside the statements presented on the site. If strong, informative links are included and the author includes contact information where possible, that will make the site more credible.
- Date any research information. Including dates allows readers to make decisions about the freshness of any facts.
- Include citations such as books and articles.
- Site design can be an indication of credibility. Well designed sites that make information more easily accessible will add credibility. Avoid teasers where key answers are buried in introductory information.
- Writing style is a certain indication of credibility. Poor spelling and major grammatical errors suggest unreliability. Make factual statements clear and direct.
Credibility as Authority:
According to BJ Fogg, described as "the world's leading researcher on web credibility," there are four types of website credibility:
- Presumed credibility: for example, from a trusted brand name.
- Reputed credibility: Referred from a trusted third-party (e.g., your wife said it's good).
- Surface credibility: credibility appearing to come from the look of the web design.
- Earned credibility: credibility earned from direct personal experience.
Some websites will have built-in authority and credibility because of the solid organizations they represent. No one questions the credibility of websites from Apple or Amazon because of the reputations behind them. But even with a very credible brand, if a business website isn’t up to date with the latest trends it can take away from its credibility.