Stanford Web Credibility Research Project Review

Imagine how great it would be if you knew how people judge the credibility of your website. Often web-marketers and conversion rate optimisation specialists debate over what works and what don’t. But often, the assertions stem from personal subjective experience rather than objective data.

One research division of Stanford, Stanford Web Credibility Research, aims to overcome this problem. A part of the Stanford Persuasive Lab Technology, it tries to answer questions which are substantial for the success of web-marketers, growth hackers, and conversion rate optimisation specialists.

What the research is about

While the research group is concerned with a wider topics, specifically, the area of research spans four verticals:

Evaluation strategies

As a web-marketer, you certainly want to know what factors users include while evaluating your website. Stanford Web Credibility Research tries to unveil just that.

What are users taking into account before they believe in your website? Are users even considering the elements on which you spend days, if not weeks, to sharpen? How users integrate past experience of your website to decide its credibility?


Appearances have always played a great role in human decisions. It is no surprise companies keep updating their designs every few months. But for conversion rate optimization, the project tries to understand which design elements work and which don’t.

Individual factors

The research also focuses on identifying factors that are very specific to people. While some users may be sensitive to typos and errors, others may completely overlook them. Sometimes, a person’s expertise in a niche also decides how he judges content on a website.

Context and content

While measuring credibility, contextual factors are extremely important. By context, the project means how important a particular information is to a user and whether she has time and resources to evaluate what she reads on the web.

Apart from these four areas, the group is also attempting to (1) develop new experimental methodologies useful for investigating Web credibility, (2) synthesize existing research in the Web credibility literature, and (3) advance theory in this field.

How successful the project has been

The Web Credibility Research Project published its first report ‘How Do People Evaluate a Web Site’s Credibility?’ in October 29, 2002. Since then it has published multitudes of research in the areas mentioned above.

The Director of Persuasive Technology Lab, B.J. Fogg, also come up with a theory, known as Prominence-Interpretation Theory, to explain how people assess credibility online. It shows how credibility evaluation depends on three factors: assumptions, knowledge, and skills.

The Project is undoubtedly the pioneer and leader in its field of study.

Resources for web-marketers, growth hackers, and CRO specialists

With hundreds of insights into how credibility works, backed by over a decade of data and research, Stanford Web Credibility Project should be the hotspot for all who want to make their online business and campaigns successful.

All the publications from the Project are available at ACM Digital Library which you can access by buying a subscription. There is also a resource section on the website, which is extremely fertile for the minds of growth hackers.

As a conversion rate optimisation specialist, you would be very interested in the 10 Stanford guidelines to boost your website’s credibility. For those who are skeptical, each of the guideline is backed by at least three supporting research from the lab.

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