Website Design Influences Users’ Credibility Judgments

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It is commonly argued that substance is more important than presentation; and that website content is likely to be judged on the basis of what it expresses, not how ideas are visually dressed up. Although substance is important, it is surprising how much additional influence superficial trappings contribute to users’ perceptions of web content. In fact, research suggest that it’s not enough to just hire talented website developers, editors and analytics experts; but talented designers can influence how much faith users may place in a given website.

Marketing researchers have conducted extensive investigations to understand how a product endorsers’ credibility influences potential customers. Traditional marketing literature suggests an association between visual attractiveness and source credibility. With few exceptions, numerous authors report that attractive communicators are more liked; and this positively impacts the products they are associated with. According to the source attractiveness model, a message’s impact depends on the endorser’s likeability, similarity and attractiveness. When looking at the impact of credibility on purchasing behaviour, researchers have shown that the willingness to buy a product is statistically associated with perceptions of an endorser’s trustworthiness, expertise, and visual attractiveness (Ohanian, 1990).

Given a strong empirical relationship between an endorser’s attractiveness and their source credibility, it appears that that the same trend also holds for websites. In a sense, websites can operate like social actors who make endorsements. Across various investigations, researchers www.ufabet are discovering that website attractiveness is related credibility in a number of interesting ways. First, researchers concluded that website design may have a greater impact on consumers’ attitudes towards websites then their offline perceptions of the organizations. Furthermore, they found a significant association between website design and users attitudes towards websites; in this study, three out of their six dimensions were trust and credibility based (Long and Chiagouris, 2006).

Second, website visuals can trigger a user to form a strong and lasting first impression; and the strength of their emotional reactions to that website can influence their memories of given products. It has been argued that emotionally evocative web designs can increase a website’s influence while strengthening users’ memories of products. These factors are cited as reason why developers strive to develop emotionally evocative websites (Kim et al., 2003). But more importantly, visually attractive websites have been shown to produce a ‘halo effect’ that forms a positive impression in users’ minds which can persist despite successive negative experiences. This first impression can be formed in as little as 50 milliseconds (Lindgaard et al., 2006). These investigations suggest that visually attractive websites deliver an emotional payload that can create a strong first impression which can influence users’ memories and cause them to overlook obvious risks.

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