Guidelines for Web credibility: how many do they follow?

This page has been getting a bit of Twitter buzz lately. It’s a set of ten common-sense guidelines for improving your online credibility. But how many of their own guidelines do they follow? Let’s see.

1. Make it easy to verify the accuracy of the information on your site.

Good idea. Cite your sources. Indeed, sources are cited on this page. So far, so good: 1/1

2. Show that there’s a real organization behind your site.

Indeed. Link back to your sponsoring organization. Let’s see who sponsors these guys. I’ll just click on the link on the top of the page and … oops! Broken link! It says Stanford, so I guess that’s impressive, but Stanford clearly hasn’t taken the care to keep these links up to date. 1/2

3. Highlight the expertise in your organization and in the content and services you provide.

Uh oh. Since all the links are broken, I don’t know who’s on your team. 1/3

4. Show that honest and trustworthy people stand behind your site.

Yes indeedy, though this seems a bit like a repeat of point 3 above. And once again, since the links are broken, you fail! 1/4

5. Make it easy to contact you

Well, there is an email, address, and phone number. I didn’t try to call, but a quick Google search for B.J. Fogg suggests that this too is out of date. 1/5

6. Design your site so that it looks professional

It looks a little clunky, but since it was made in 2002, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. 2/6

7. Make your site easy to use — and useful.

Sure, easy to use, and pretty useful. We’ll give you this one too. 3/7

8. Update your site’s content often (at least show it’s been reviewed recently).

Uh, “last updated June, 2002″? I don’t think that counts as “recent” in the intersphere. 3/8

9. Use restraint with any promotional content (e.g., ads, offers).

Nary an ad in sight. But it would have been cool if there was a 2002-style pop-up ad for a Palm-Pilot or something. 4/9

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.”


Well, it is up and running. We’ll give you a half point for that. 4.5/10

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4 Responses to Guidelines for Web credibility: how many do they follow?

  1. Kind of you to do this analysis Dave. It’s a shame they haven’t kept it up to date, what they suggest are good tips for web 1.0, web 2.0 and beyond, but like you’ve demonstrated they fall down on their own criteria…

  2. Sally Church says:

    It is a little clunky, I agree. However, having followed the Stanford course last year on Facebook, I can verify that it was rather good fun although sadly that is not one of the criteria!

  3. BJ Fogg says:

    Thanks for bringing attention to my lab’s work on web credibility.

    Yes, the site is WAY out of date. We’ve been blazing trails on new topics since 2001 and frankly the new projects take priority over updating old work. (This lapse also has to do with students graduating and moving on, but that’s another explanation — and a lame excuse).

    If you want to see the new topics, go to or


    BJ Fogg

  4. dave says:


    Thanks for commenting. The point wasn’t so much to fisk your site as it was to make a subtle jab at the way memes make their way around Twitter. The site was retweeted approvingly several times, and no one seemed to notice how dated the advice was.

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