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Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do

Chapter 7: Credibility and the World Wide Web

Overview

If you look at the most frequently visited Web sites, you ll see that many sites seek to persuade users in some way. MSN and other leading portal sites such as AOL and Yahoo try to convince users to do their Web searching, shopping, and chatting with friends on their sites or those of their affiliates. They also hope that users will register with them create a personalized homepage, such as My MSN, My AOL, or My Yahoo giving the site operators information about users and providing a way to contact them directly in the future. These portals succeed only when they are successful at persuasion.

Credibility is a key factor in a Web site s ability to persuade.

Even sites that focus mainly on providing information and content, such as about.com or cnet.com, attempt to persuade. Their goal is to convince users that visiting their site is the best way to get what they need, be it news, an mp3 file, or the latest games. Technical support sites try to persuade users to solve their problems online rather than calling the company. Even personal Web sites have persuasion as part of their objective. People want those visiting their site to think of them in the best light, as competent professionals or interesting human beings. As I see it, if someone didn t want to influence others in some way, he or she would not take the time or energy to set up aWeb site.

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