Why it is important that we evaluate credibility of websites?

The idea of credibility is important in today’s society where we heavily depend on technology. The amount of people who use books for studying is slowly decreasing, as technology gets more and more advanced. In a society where we can now use internet to look up anything with a push of the button it is important that with each site visit we look into how credible the source actually is. We need to make sure the source from which we are reading the information from is credible, as what we read will influence our perspective of the topic, which will determine how we feel about the topic. From what we read on the internet it can influence the way we see the world and even change our values and aspects of life therefore we need to make sure that what we read is correct. As describe in his article “Credibility and the World Wide Web” Fogg (2003) credibility is made up of two factors make up credibility trustworthiness and expertise. Many factors can influence how trustworthy a site is and it is important to check to see if the site you are using has these factors.Some factors include is the site frequently updated, who has written the webpage, what type of domain is the site, has the author used references or had experience and whether the information matches another site. It is especially important to check how credible the site is if you are a student. When writing essays it is important to get the facts right otherwise the argument proposed would contain incorrect facts making your argument invalid.

Why is Wikipedia not a credible source of information?

Wikipedia is one site that is widely used however is not credible. Although Wikipedia is good to use as a stepping-stone for assignments or just common knowledge it is not entirely reliable as anyone who has access to a computer or some form of technology can easily alter the information. Research claims that 60% of Wikipedia entries are incorrect or contain errors (Morrow, 2012).  If using Wikipedia as the beginning point it is always best to research further into the topic and find peer reviewed site or books which justify the claim the was read on Wikipedia. Although Wikipedia does delete any invalid information due to the large amount of pages on Wikipedia, it can take up to days to get to a precise page and clear it, which would be difficult and could be too late if people start to use it in articles or essays. With the website being easily accessible and open to public, it is not always the public who is to blame for errors. Some governments and higher authority figures have used the website to edit out the truth of events that have happened and replaced them with a façade to conceal the truth from the public (Watson, 2007). Another reoccurring problem is that articles are often written and leave out important key details, which can lead to people taking things too seriously especially when it comes to medical advice.  As an example if people write about a certain type of drug, information about the side effects can be left out to make the drug seem more appealing but can have a disastrous effect (Clauson cited in Harding, 2008).

Anticipated issues that may affect the users’ perceived web credibility in future:

  • Various technology: With technology advancing so quickly in today’s society websites can now be viewed from almost any electronic device that can connect to the internet. This makes judging websites difficult as they vary from each different device.
  • Advertisements: Although it may look appealing, sites with too many advertisements or flashy signs can make the page less credible.
  • Authors: As the internet is forever growing it is more difficult to determine whether or not a person really does have a degree or if they are just lying.
  • Payment: Sites that ask for money or are trying to sell you something are not always credible. Most of the time it is safe to assume that they are looking out for themselves rather than trying to make education free.
  • People: As more people become connected to the internet the amount of sites are forever growing. This can lead to non credible sites who have incorrect information or biased opinions. Due to this people become more wary of sites so even if the site is credible it may be overlooked because its the same as another site that has similar information.
  • Reputation: A cite can gain a lot of reputation even if they are not credible. This is due to friends, family, or even co-workers recommending sites that may give non credible information.


Examples of Credibility:

Presumed Credibility:

Presumed credibility occurs when a site has a good reputation. The WWF wesite falls under the category of presumed credibility as it has org. in the url link, it is aimed at help precious species and is a non profit organization.

Reputed Credibility: Jenny Craig falls under the category of reputed credibility. Jenny Craig has many endorsements and has many celebrities telling you how well it works and showing their fit bodies.

Surface Credibility: A good example of surface credibility is the apple website. It has a professional feel and has an easy to understand layout which allows users to easily navigate through the site.

Earned Credibility: Westpac is a good example of earned credibility. It is a well known bank and has earned the trust of many customers over the years. It has a reputation of being a safe and well known bank which has had no security issues.

Performance Load

What is Performance Load?

The concept of performance load can be defined as the amount of energy required, both mentally and physically, to perform a task (Lidwell, Holden & Butler, 2003).  If the performance load is high then it is more likely that you will make a mistake or fail to complete the task due to the excessive amounts of energy needed. If the performance load is low then it is more likely you will succeed at the task with minimal or no mistakes. When broken down the concept of performance load can be defined by two factors: cognitive and kinematic.

Cognitive load involves the mental capacity to understand and solve problems, perception and memory. The memory section can also be broken down into two parts, working and long term (Bozarth, 2010). The brain can only hold 7 pieces of information at a given time (Miller, 1956) therefore increasing the risk of mistakes however, if the amount of information is limited then the load becomes more bearable and you will be able to retain more information (Plass, 2010).

Kinematic load refers to the amount of physical energy required to accomplish the task. The more energy required the harder it is to complete the task. The less energy and the easier the task will become (Lidwell, Holden & Butler, 2003).

What is “chunking”?

Chunking helps improve one memory performance. It is the breaking down of information to make it easier to retain (malamed, 2010). When presented with large amounts of information it makes it difficult to understand and retain the information. When the information is broken down into “chunks” people tend to be more observant making it a lot easier for the information to be retained (Miller, 1955).

The concept of chunking  was designed because the brain has a certain capacity in which information can be stored within the working memory. Chunking can be broken down into two categories: expository advanced organizers and comparative advance organizers (Lidwell, Holden & Butler, 2003). The advanced organizers only contain the information that can be held within the working memory. Expository advanced organizers are used when the person needs to be exposed to new information, as they have no prior information on it. The comparative advance organizers compare the information that they have previously learnt with what they already knew about the topic (Lidwell, Holden & Butler, 2003).

An example of chunking is websites. The information on websites is usually set up in chunks to allow the brain to absorb the information easily. The use of headings and sub headings allow for not only an easy read but also the ability to identify and retain the important information. If a web page is overloaded then it makes it a lot more difficult for the person to find the important information and to retain which generally results in the user finding a different site that is easy to understand.

Is psychology necessary in design?

Psychology is necessary in design as it provides an understanding of how the brain functions and what will be aesthetically pleasing to a person’s eye. As performance load has to be taken into consideration it is important to make the design as simple as possible so little effort is require and information can be retained. It is also necessary for the design to be aesthetically pleasing to ensure the product sells therefore it is necessary to understand how the brain functions even if it is only a brief understanding. The way the mind perceives information is complex and can affect human emotions thus it is important to do background information into how the mind works to gain an advantage in marketing.


Three examples:

1) Credit card:

A credit card is an example of cognitive load. It uses the technique of chunking which makes the credit card number visible and easy to read. The 16 digits are broken down into groups of four, which makes it easier for the brain to retain the information therefore allowing the person to memorize the number.

2) GPS:

A GPS (global positioning satellite) is a useful gadget, which dramatically lowers a person’s performance load. By pushing a single button or keying in a destination, a person can be shown a route to return home or a route to reach their destination. This is more efficient than a map as the product does all the thinking for you thus lowering your performance load.

3) Online Shopping:

Online shopping is a form of kinematic load. It allows consumers to shop online from their favourite store without having to leave the house. It also allow for overseas shopping which makes it easier to get items without having to travel thus lowering the cognitive load. Like all things there is a catch that can increase both the cognitive load and the kinematic load as not all site offer international shipping or even free shipping. However most sites do offer size and price conversion charts and a sign up link so consumers can be updated with all the new items that come into their favourite stores.


Consistency is important in terms of design. It is how people become familiar and understand a specific product. If a design is consistent then a user who is familiar with a product will be able to use it without much difficulty (Horton, 2006). In terms of consistency, there are four types: aesthetic, function, internal and external (Lidwell, Holden & Butler, 2006). Aesthetic consistency is based on style and appearance. Functional consistency looks at how the product functions. It is how people familiarize themselves with the product and how to use it. Internal consistency is the combination of aesthetic and functional elements within the product, which allows the product to have a consistent and logical design. The final type of consistency is external consistency, which explores the elements in the surrounding environment. It is because of external consistency the users are able to recall prior knowledge of a product and are able to understand the new design (Colville-Hyde, 2009).

In terms of consistency, repetition can also be a form of consistency (Williams, 2004). It is due to repetition that we as users are able to have form knowledge of products and be able to use them when a new updated form is release. An example of repetitive consistency is smartphones. Samsung have released a variety of different smartphones however, any person who has operated a Samsung smartphone can be given the latest version and still be able to operated. Why?  It is because it is consistent. The latest phone may have a few updates and extra customizations but the function of the phone itself remains the same. When it comes to web design, the same consistent functions are applied. It is explained by Badre (2002) that to make web sites aesthetically appealing certain functions must remain the same. It is through repetition that we are able to learn and control products and web sites without much irritation.


Three examples:

1) Bio-hazard signs

Bio-hazard signs are another example of consistency. Although the sign background can sometimes vary, the one thing that does not change is the symbol. This allows the sign to be recognized internationally meaning it does not matter where you go you will always be able to understand the sign even if there is a language barrier. The traditional colour of a hazard sign is yellow. The consistency of the use of the colour yellow on signs means it is a lot easier to recognize and not much thought has to be put into thinking about what it means. The use of internal consistency means that the signs are put clearly on bio-hazard areas or products which allows them to be visible from all angles.

2) Remotes

Remote controls are an example of consistency. No matter what they are used for they all have a similar design which allows for easy recollection of prior information about how to operate them which falls under aesthetic consistency. They all have the functional buttons such as play, stop, pause, volume and a fast forward and rewind button making them functionally consistent. If one has prior information on how to operate a remote, even if they are given a model of a remote that they are not familiar with they should still be able to operate it which give the remote a consistent design which is useful and useable.

3)  Glow Jackets

Fluoro jackets are also an example of consistency. Fluoro jackets, like bio-hazard signs, often have different colours such as green, yellow and orange. Although they vary in colour, the function of the jacket is the same.  The consistency of this jacket is that they are fluoro colours, which makes it easier to spot people in any background. Workers such as emergency services, railway worker, airport workers and even hunters generally wear the coats. The consistent idea of wearing fluoro allows for those in any area surround by vehicles to be easily recognized and for hunters be identified as humans and not game.

Aesthetic Usability Effect

Aesthetic usability effect looks at the concept of how the design of a product influences a consumer’s choice. The theory of aesthetic usability explores the idea of how consumers will often choose a product based on the way it looks as opposed to the way it performs. The general idea behind aesthetic usability is that if a product looks pleasing to the eye then it is likely to be easy to use however, this is not always true (Lidwell, Holden & Butler, 2003). Some products that may look aesthetically pleasing however, they are not always the best choice in terms of usability.

The main concept behind a good aesthetic usability design is to send a positive and appealing image. This is achieved through creating designs that a flexible with design patterns and customization which really allows the consumer to make the product their own. Boulton (2005), describes aesthetic design as a concept that gives products individuality and uniqueness, which creates a brand and gives the product an advantage when it comes to competitive stage in marketing. As Boulton (2005), quotes “Look after the design and the usability will look after itself.” When marketing products the design is extremely important, as it is what gives the product the advantage. Products that do not look aesthetically pleasing are often seen as low quality and are disregarded even if the usability of the product is more efficient. In addition to appearance, an idea that is said to contribute in helping a product become aesthetically pleasing is harmony. This refers to the idea of using a person senses such as sound and touch to make the product more appealing (Lauer & Pentak, 2002). A harmonious balance can determine how accepted a product would be within society.

In the end although it is necessary for a product to be easily used and useful, they may not be desirable and the reverse is also true. The reality of a design is that it must cause minimal irritation for the user and that although poorly designed products are not encouraged, the reality is that appealing appearances are going to be tolerated more than unappealing products (Norman, 2002).


Three Examples:

1) Cars

Cars are an example of aesthetics usability. Although cars contain essentially the same parts such as motors, batteries, gear box etc. what sets them aside and makes them all unique is the appearance.  The aesthetic design of each car is different and is the reason we have so many different colour cars and different brands of cars such as Hyundai, Mercedes, Lamborghini etc. Appearances are what make a brand unique. When comparing cars, such as a Porsche and a Toyota, if taken apart you would discover that they have the same parts that allow the car to function. It is for that reason that the exterior must be different to allow for a different identity and allows them to be customized specifically for the user. Due to the use of aesthetic usability, consumers are less likely to be irritated when a malfunction happens, as it has come from a brand that they both love and trust.

2) People

Although it would be nice to think humans are not an example of aesthetic usability, it is unfortunately not the case. Humans are also an example of aesthetic usability as it is the first impression you make of a person that will determine how you think about them. As an example when choosing ones friends, it is always based on the first impression followed by personality. If for example, you are new to a school and you are deciding whom to talk to, there is one female who is beautiful, cheerful and outgoing, one who is average, gloomy and sitting alone. As a natural reaction, a person would be more inclined to go talk to the person who is more cheerful and outgoing as opposed to the person who is sitting there quietly. It is the same when choosing a phone, the one that looks more appealing would be chosen instead of a less appealing one. Although a lot of factors come into play when choosing friends, such as your own personality, it would still be true to say that you still pick based on first impressions.

3) Heels

Shoes are another form of aesthetic usability. When choosing shoes most females and even some males would choose them for their looks instead of their comfort and practicality. Take stilettos for an example, on first look they would look amazing and would make any girl jealous while improving your own beauty however, there is also a pair of practical shoes that will provide comfort but little style. The natural choice for most females would be to look good so they would pick the stilettos. After purchasing the shoes and wearing them out, only later is it discovered that the shoes are uncomfortable and can only be worn for a short amount of time. In this case stilettos become impractical and is only useful for looking good and does not protect the wearers feet. It is due to the aesthetic usability design which makes the shoes more appealing even though they are not practical.