With our Web sites, we try to persuade at a distance, without any personal contact
with our visitors. To succeed at this, we need for our Web site to be believed. What should we do to establish
The Stanford Web Credibility Project made an investigation of the factors that create site
credibility, and issued ten guidelines. They can be found in Wikipedia. I've quoted the guidelines directly,
because they are so good, and have slightly rewritten the discussion. It's longer than my usual newsletter, so
please forgive me, this will span two issues.
Guidelines One Through Five
1. Make it easy to verify the accuracy of information on your site.
Third-party support, in the form of citations and links to sources, helps build credibility. Even
if readers don't check your sources, just by showing sources you've shown confidence in what you are saying.
2. Show that there's a real organization behind your site.
Listing a physical address, a photo of your offices or a membership with the Chamber of Commerce
are all ways to show that you're a real organization.
3. Highlight the expertise in your organization and in the content and services you
Talk about the experts on your team and their credentials. Be sure to mention any respected
organizations that you're affiliated with.
4. Show that honest and trustworthy people stand behind your site.
Once you've established that you're a real organization, now establish that you are real people
with photos and staff bios. Even mention family and hobbies in the bios, to help your visitors relate.
5. Make it easy to contact you.
Be sure that your contact information is very clear. Site credibility is boosted by a physical
address, phone number and email address.
The Bottom Line
Simple measures that we would use in printed matter also help establish the credibility of your site. If you
expect people to trust you enough to rely on information on your site or to do business with you, then follow these
five simple steps--and five more in the next edition of this Newsletter.