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Excellent Guidelines from Stanford

Well I am behind. I just discovered the Stanford Guidelines for Web Credibility! They’re here and are dated 2002.
They pose the question “How can you boost your web site’s credibility?” and then they try to answer it. They have compiled 10 guidelines for building the credibility of a web site. These guidelines are based on three years of research that included over 4,500 people. They have more information and hints and they link to the research too!
Here are the big ten:
1. Make it easy to verify the accuracy of the information on your site.
2. Show that there’s a real organization behind your site.
3. Highlight the expertise in your organization and in the content and services you provide.
4. Show that honest and trustworthy people stand behind your site.
5. Make it easy to contact you.
6. Design your site so it looks professional (or is appropriate for your purpose).
7. Make your site easy to use — and useful.
8. Update your site’s content often (at least show it’s been reviewed recently).
9. Use restraint with any promotional content (e.g., ads, offers).
10. Avoid errors of all types, no matter how small they seem.
If we believe that library websites and library portals are credible, authentic and useful, then we really need to review or product with an eye to see how well we stand up to these guidelines. Indeed, it might be best done by use our outsider eyes. The inmates of our world may not see our weaknesses. I know it is not uncommon for it to be difficult to find a library’s phone number or address, and it’s actually rare to see libraries promoting the talents and expertise of their teams and staff. Imagine any other professionally-driven service organization hiding the names and talents of their best resource!
Linda Fair pointed me towards this article (From Community MX Newsletter, Jan 18, 2006):
“Content Is King… Or Maybe Not
Researchers in Canada have discovered that people are more apt to judge a website on its immediate aesthetic value rather than the content within the site. They say that their test subjects were able to show their like or dislike for a website in about 1/20th of a second, obviously not enough time to actually read anything within a website. They also discovered that this first impression lingered as people were given a longer time to view each website. For web developers, the message is clear: It is better to look good than to feel good about your content. More on this at But don’t blink, or you’ll miss it.”
Now this might be just some of the backlash against Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Blink“. There’s a new book “Think” that urges people not to make snap decisions. I think they miss the point of the Gladwell hypothesis – that you can’t do ‘blink’ well until you have experience and knowledge. Users are getting trained and experienced in the subtle clues that give them a satisfying experience with a website. We are warned.
Just a thought,

Posted on: January 28, 2006, 11:09 pm Category: Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Got to love marketing blogs. Hmmm bet SirsiDynix has a solution for this problem. Wait why not use SirsiDynix EPS? Oh… it use Rooms Technology! Wow that would be cool if it wasn’t a decade behind the power curve.

  2. Funny. Then again I use my own name, don’t hide my identity and stand behind what say. I point to our products and other’s solutions when I like them. I also try to maintain a policy of openness and honesty – hence I posted your comment. Can the same be said of Who Me? Hmmm – apparently the secretive Who Me knew about context sensitive portal solutions with content management capacity a decade ago or earlier – ahead of the power curve (!?) – and a year after the birth of the web! He (?) should be blogging his genius openly instead of hiding behind a pathetic pseudonym.