Guidelines for website credibility

Handy copypasta guidelines from the wiki page on the Stanford Web Credibility Project:

Guideline Additional Comments
1. Make it easy to verify the accuracy of the information on your site. You can build web site credibility by providing third-party support (citations, references, source material) for information you present, especially if you link to this evidence. Even if people don’t follow these links, you’ve shown confidence in your material.
2. Show that there’s a real organization behind your site. Showing that your web site is for a legitimate organization will boost the site’s credibility. The easiest way to do this is by listing a physical address. Other features can also help, such as posting a photo of your offices or listing a membership with the chamber of commerce.
3. Highlight the expertise in your organization and in the content and services you provide. Do you have experts on your team? Are your contributors or service providers authorities? Be sure to give their credentials. Are you affiliated with a respected organization? Make that clear. Conversely, don’t link to outside sites that are not credible. Your site becomes less credible by association.
4. Show that honest and trustworthy people stand behind your site. The first part of this guideline is to show there are real people behind the site and in the organization. Next, find a way to convey their trustworthiness through images or text. For example, some sites post employee bios that tell about family or hobbies.
5. Make it easy to contact you. A simple way to boost your site’s credibility is by making your contact information clear: phone number, physical address, and email address.
6. Design your site so it looks professional (or is appropriate for your purpose). We find that people quickly evaluate a site by visual design alone. When designing your site, pay attention to layout, typography, images, consistency issues, and more. Of course, not all sites gain credibility by looking like IBM.com. The visual design should match the site’s purpose.
7. Make your site easy to use—and useful. We’re squeezing two guidelines into one here. Our research shows that sites win credibility points by being both easy to use and useful. Some site operators forget about users when they cater to their own company’s ego or try to show the dazzling things they can do with web technology.
8. Update your site’s content often (at least show it’s been reviewed recently). People assign more credibility to sites that show they have been recently updated or reviewed.
9. Use restraint with any promotional content (e.g., ads, offers). If possible, avoid having ads on your site. If you must have ads, clearly distinguish the sponsored content from your own. Avoid pop-up ads, unless you don’t mind annoying users and losing credibility. As for writing style, try to be clear, direct, and sincere.
10. Avoid errors of all types, no matter how small they seem. Typographical errors and broken links hurt a site’s credibility more than most people imagine. It’s also important to keep your site up and running.

 

Why people don’t like carousels and what to do about it.

I got totally Baader-Meinhoffed last week with the accordion thing. Felt like flavour of the month, the way everyone wouldn’t shut up about it.

Actually it was just me and my colleagues having a rant. 🙂

In short:

People don’t like carousels, don’t care what they say
and don’t bother after the first panel
.

…so, for the ux-inclined, it’s frustrating that we still use them the way we do.

[B]oy does that homepage look like a juicy piece of prime real estate to a roomful of stakeholders. It’s hard to navigate these mini turf wars, so tools like carousels are used as appeasers to keep everyone from beating the shit out of each other.

via Carousels @ brad frost web

This ain’t a cry for blood, though. Typically, a design fails because of a combination of things – the medium, content and audience are incompatible. In the case of the humble carousel, we get the perfect storm of disharmony.

The Medium

Suppose your amazing marketing message is 4th in line on a carousel that spends 2 seconds per banner. This means the user will spend at least 6 seconds on filler before they get to your gold. That’s a long time in internet years.

The modern website carousel is like a TV ad break, only your favourite show won’t be back after those messages. Is this really the best way get users to pay attention and engage?

The Content

The write-ups on Nielsen’s Alertbox on Carousels and WeedyGarden’s Carousel Statssuggest that content can be a huge factor in carousels performing poorly.

After all, e-books and real paper books behave in the same way, sequentially feeding the audience one piece of information at a time – and most of us know how hard it is to put down a good book. This highlights the importance of storytelling in this space, something we tend to miss in the mish-mash of unrelated banners on a rotation.

Brian Krogsgard’s Sliders Suck says it could be totally appropriate to use a carousel when using the carousel is the end goal, not the means to the end.

The Audience

When a slider item is active, it’s more important than everything else on the page. When a slider item is inactive, it’s completely unimportant.

via Slide Rules @ Bearded Blog

The implicit assumption of a carousel is that the item on display will be relevant to the person viewing the page. I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here, saying how one size does not fit all.

And we don’t have to look too deep into behavioural stuff (like banner blindness, tunnel vision and selective attention) or user agent stuff (like hardware capabilities, or compatibility with screen readers) to figure we might be slightly sub-optimal in catering for our users’ needs with sliding banners.

So, what do we do?

The tests say no to carousels, and you’ll find many, many voices in chorus about why. But sometimes we’ll have to use them, and sometimes we’ll actually want to use them – it’ll feel right, even though it seems wrong. We all have nights like this.

The problem isn’t in the doing, but in how it’s done. And we could be doing it less wrong.

Start this way:

  • Make the content more interesting. (source 1source 2Can’t stress this enough.
  • Limit the number of items in a carousel. (source)
  • Make the navigation obvious, so users can skip. (source)
  • Mind the interaction design stuff, don’t do the annoying crap. (source)

Thank you to @niaalist for sharing the links in this post.

If you do something cool, people will adopt it

The internet is super smart. If you do something that is cool, that’s actually worth people’s time, then they’ll adopt it. If you do something that’s not cool and sucks, you can spend as many marketing dollars as you want, [they] just won’t.

– Gabe Newell (Co-founder & Managing Director of Valve Corporation)

Source: Exclusive interview: Valve’s Gabe Newell on Steam Box, biometrics, and the future of gaming

via @_Funko

Get attention by being useful

The best branded apps do not belong to a campaign, they are not simply another channel through which to communicate the current brand message or product promotion. They are a utility in their own right; something useful that earns the attention of consumers.

Source: Branded Apps vs Brand Advertising. How being useful gets consumers’ attention too.

A little consensus on yesterday’s post from the world of apps, via @adapptor.

Getting attention and being worthy of it

It’s so damn disappointing to be drawn in by a catchy teaser only to find you’ve wasted eye/ear/brain space on something with no substance.

The well-cut movie trailer for a terribad film; vaguebook status updates that pepper your feed; that guy who’s great at saying something shocking but can’t follow it up with a well-considered argument – it’s all about stealing your attention, but giving nothing back.

[B]ecause we live in the age of attention scarcity, many people think that getting attention is the hard part. But attention isn’t actually the rarest commodity in the 21st century.

Trust is.

Copyblogger shares why it’s important to be worth the attention you ask for:

When cool goes mainstream and becomes less cool

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Do you guys remember Airwalk, the skate shoe that was all the rage when we were kids?

Through ’95 and ’96, Airwalk created a shoe epidemic by staying close to what their customers wanted, then channeling their understanding into innovative products and creative, appealing advertising. But things took a turn once they got big and neglected the core stuff – what their customers actually wanted – that earned them their fame.

In case you can’t be bothered reading, the key takeaway is that it pays to keep our users at the heart of our decisions – whether designing products, websites, campaigns, brands or tools.

For those interested, this is the story of Airwalk’s decline:

The Airwalk epidemic did not last. In 1997, the company’s sales began to falter… In critical locations, [they] failed to supply enough product for the back-to-school season… [and] began to lose that cutting-edge sensibility that it had traded on for so long.

“When Airwalk started, the product was directional and inventive. The shoes were very forward,” said Chad Farmer [creative director at Airwalk’s ad agency, Lambesis]. “We maintained the trendsetter focus on the marketing. but the product began to slip. The company began to listen more and more to the sales staff and the product started to get that homogenized, mainstream look…”

Lambesis’ strategy was based on translating Innovator shoes for the Majority. But suddenly Airwalk wasn’t an Innovator shoe anymore. “We made another, critical mistake,” Lee Smith, the former president of Airwalk says. “We had a segmentation strategy, where the small, independent core skate shops – the three hundred boutiques around the country who really created us – had a certain product line that was exclusive to them. They didn’t want us to be in the mall. So… we segmented our product.” … The [Innovator customers] always got to wear a different, more exclusive shoe than everyone else. The mainstream customer had the satisfaction of wearing the same brand as the cool kids.

But then, at the height of its success, Airwalk … stopped giving the specialty shops their own shoes. “That’s when the trendsetters started to get a disregard for the brand,” says Farmer. “They started to go to their boutiques where they got their cool stuff, and they realized that everyone else could get the very same shoes at J C Penney.” The epidemic was over.

Smith says, “Cool brands treat people well, and we didn’t. I had personally promised some of those little shops that we would give them a special product, then we changed our minds. When we became bigger, that’s when we should have paid more attention to the details and kept a good buzz going, so when people said you guys are sellouts, you guys went mainstream, you suck, we could have said, you know what, we don’t. We had this little jewel of a brand, and little by little we sold that off into the mainstream, and once we had sold it all… so what? You buy a pair of our shoes. Why would you ever buy another?”

Abridged excerpt from The Tipping Point (p. 213-215) by Malcolm Gladwell.

Picture from Ninetiestalgia: October 2010.

Food packaging influences how we perceive tastiness

A new study from the UK has found that biscuits seem tastier when they come in fancy packaging.

The biscuits that were given with their packaging scored significantly higher overall, and were perceived to taste better than their wrapper-less counterparts.

Read the article: Tastiness All in the Eye of the Biscuit-Holder

cookie_300.png.scaled500

Why you shouldn’t create a viral (and what happens when you try)

When a viral happens authentically, you know you’ve earned some pretty sweet social brownie points. But setting out to “make a viral” deliberately most often gives you the opposite of that.

From Why You Shouldn’t Create a Viral Video:

It’s unoriginal
Even wildly successful viral videos, like the “Old Spice Guy” or “Kony 2012″ have seen lackluster results in follow-up videos attempting the same success. So, instead of trying to think about how you can create the next copy-cat video, spend some time thinking about how you can leverage the next big thing, rather than the last big thing.

It’s impossible to predict
Given our sometimes irrational and fickle human nature, some things resonate with us and some things don’t. No matter what your brand benefits are, or how many funny, shocking or awe-inspiring clips you include in your video, there’s no way to really know whether your video will be shared on a viral scale.

It’s ineffective
Think about the last viral video you watched. How many views did it have? More importantly, do you know the name of its creator? Did you visit a website or buy anything as a result of viewing the viral video? Chances are that you enjoyed the video, perhaps shared it with some friends and then went on with your everyday business.

And what happens when you try:

That said, we’re 3 years on from when that video was made. The world is more aware of how cringe-worthy a deliberate viral can get. Now could be the golden era for these guys…

😦

The importance of storytelling

Slide5.jpg.scaled1000

When most people think about marketing, these are the tools they think of: print, radio, TV and the web. None of these, however, are ingrained in us as much as storytelling. We’ve been telling stories for thousands of years, but we don’t have to go back that far to understand storytelling’s powerful effect on our hearts and minds. Go back only as far as your childhood, when you begged your parents to read your favorite story—the one you already knew by heart—just one more time. Why did you do that? Why was it so important to hear that story?

Stories and the art of storytelling play a major role in content marketing today. Not all brands realize the importance of unearthing their core story and learning to tell stories in ways that endear new fans and motivate advocates.

Source: 7 Reasons Storytelling is Important for Branded Content

I’m not keen on storytelling driven by marketing, but that’s not to say it’s bad – storytelling can be done well and with integrity. Just like SEO, used car sales and Christmas.

Lovely Package

http://lovelypackage.com

Admittedly, this is a design blog, so expect to see lots of “just eyecandy” entries – but once in awhile, you find a few pieces that cleverly combine form and function (and recycle-ability).

lovely-package-job-hunting-club1-e1333171369648 lovely-package-mud1-e1338950472856 lovely-package-otilia-erdelyi1-e1343972180246 lovely-package-yonatan-sheinker5-e1330223062526 lovley-package-lockhart-tennessee-whiskey1