Transparency And Credibility On The Web: How To Increase Them
Transparency and credibility are probably among the hardest assets to build online. The lack of a physical presence greatly diminishes our normal ability to assess an organization/company credibility by looking at visual clues and by having direct communications with its staff.
On the Web all of us need to rely on secondary indicators to assess a site true credibility, and the ones we look for more often are the ones that probably we take least care in maintaining on our own sites.
According to extensive research conducted by the Stanford Credibility Research Lab, the following list of ten items represents the most critical items to address when trying to improve a site authority in its field:
1. Make it easy to verify the accuracy of the information on your site. You can build web site credibility by providing third-party support (citations, references, source material) for information you present, especially if you link to this evidence. Even if people don't follow these links, you've shown confidence in your material.
2. Show that there's a real organization behind your site.
Showing that your web site is for a legitimate organization will boost the site's credibility. The easiest way to do this is by listing a physical address. Other features can also help, such as posting a photo of your offices or listing a membership with the chamber of commerce.
3. Highlight the expertise in your organization and in the content and services you provide.
Do you have experts on your team? Are your contributors or service providers authorities? Be sure to give their credentials. Are you affiliated with a respected organization? Make that clear.
4. Show that honest and trustworthy people stand behind your site.
The first part of this guideline is to show there are real people behind the site and in the organization. Next, find a way to convey their trustworthiness through images or text.
5. Make it easy to contact you.
A simple way to boost your site's credibility is by making your contact information clear: phone number, physical address, and email address.
6. Design your site so it looks professional (or is appropriate for your purpose).
People quickly evaluate a site by visual design alone.
7. Make your site easy to use -- and useful.
8. Update your site's content often.
9. Use restraint with any promotional content (e.g., ads, offers).
If possible, avoid having ads on your site. If you must have ads, clearly distinguish the sponsored content from your own. Avoid pop-up ads.
10. Avoid errors of all types, no matter how small they seem.
These guidelines are based on three years of research that included over 4,500 people. The original research report contains lots of references and provides a clear summary description for each issue listed above.
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