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

The Web Credibility Framework

What exactly is the Web? Is it an information system, a place for community gatherings, a space for accessing and using software applications, a huge shopping mall, or a next-generation broadcast medium? The answer seems to change over time. This dynamism has made the Web difficult to study rigorously because what exists today may not exist or may not be relevant tomorrow. By the time you plan, execute, and document a careful study, the Web playing field can shift, making your study a historical artifact rather than a useful research step forward.

To promote research and robust understanding of Web credibility, I ve created a framework that outlines categories of Web site variables. Within this Web Credibility Framework (Table 7.13), a Web site can be described by three categories: the operator of the site, the content of the site, and the site s design. These categories are helpful in sorting out the many issues relating to Web credibility. For example, if you re a designer, you ll find that only certain issues are under your control, while other issues, such as content, may not be.

Table 7.13: Web Credibility Framework



Elements that boost credibility (examples)

Operator The organization or person offering the site

Organization or Person

  • Operator is a respected organization.

  • Operator is a nonprofit organization.

  • Site shows photos of the organization s members.

  • Site posts appropriate rules regarding content contribution or other issues related to use of the site.

Content What the site provides users in terms...


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