How Do People Evaluate a Web Site’s Credibility?
Results from a Large Study
A report of research by:
B.J. Fogg, Ph.D., Cathy Soohoo, David Danielsen - Persuasive Technology Lab Stanford University
Leslie Marable - Consumer WebWatch
Julianne Stanford and Ellen R. Tauber - Sliced Bread Design, LLC
Report Released: October 29, 2002
Report Updated on November 11, 2002
Study term: June 15, 2002, to August 15, 2002
In this study, 2,684 people evaluated the credibility of two live Web sites on a similar topic (such as health or news). We gathered the comments people wrote about each site’s credibility and analyzed the comments to find out what features of a Web site get noticed when people evaluate credibility. We found that the “design look” of the site was mentioned most frequently, being present in 46.1% of the comments. Next most common were comments about information structure and information focus. In this paper we share sample participant comments in the top 18 areas that people noticed when evaluating Web site credibility. We discuss reasons for the prominence of design look, interpret the findings in light of Prominence-Interpretation Theory, and outline the implications of this research for Consumer WebWatch.