at "First Glance"
The Logo and Home Page Credibility Requirement
When visitors land on a website, the first thing they do
is mentally evaluate in an instant whether they can trust
the information on the site enough to continue. Like all
information, this is a matter of whether or not the source
of the information can be trusted.
In people to people interaction,
we evaluate the person doing the talking before we accept
the person's message. On a website, we evaluate the company
behind the information. The company is evaluated at "first
glance" during the first three seconds of a website
What do visitors look for during this critical period?
Research indicates that perception
is done at "first glance" and on the basis of
whether the company is considered credible or not.
Further, visitors look for what is termed "surface"
cues for credibility. Stanford University web credibility
researcher, Dr. B.J. Fogg, describes "surface credibility"
as simple inspection of surface traits non-verbally communicated
by visual design.
In people to people communication
this would be how a person looks, his or her dress, or hairstyle.
Whether the person is neat or sloppy. These are "surface
credibility" characteristics. We often hear the phrase,
"you don't get a second chance to make a first good
Why is a first impression
of people important? We trust or don't trust the credibility
of people upon first meeting. This leads to accepting, or
not accepting, what they have to say.
The same is true at the moment of "first glance"
at a website, except we look at the how credible the company
logo and home page looks through non-verbal design elements.
In an instant. This is critical for continued website success.
The objective is to turn visitors into trusting customers
who move on after "first glance" within the website
for the purpose of purchasing a product or service.
Website studies on visitor
use conclude that over eighty percent of visitors leave
at "first glance" if they do not consider a website credible.
In fact, on the positive side, my PhD research concluded
that four times as many visitors will continue as conversion
rate customers if a credibility-based logo is on the company
website at "first glance" compared to a non-credible logo.
Thus, my research supports that of Dr. B.J. Fogg and his
Stanford (as in University) Web Credibility Research (http://credibility.stanford.edu/guidelines/).
We suggest that savvy website owners have two easy opportunities
to look credible and boost visitor website trust at "first
glance" to increase conversion rates:
- Show that there is a real organization behind
the website, as an honest trustworthy company.
This is done most effectively with a credibility-based
logo designsm representing
the company. The credible company logo is usually in the
upper left hand corner of the website. Perception theory
in communication persuasion suggests that people immediately
want to know the source of the message which follows.
Just like when we often look first for the name of the
person on an envelop or post card.
Similarly, visitors to a website look at the company
logo, or search for the company name if there is no
logo, at "first glance."
- Show that there is a credible organization
behind the website with an appropriately designed home
page. A company website home page must be designed
with the same appropriate credibility traits as in the
company logo. This will also give consistency in credibility
traits important to the company behind the website.
Logos and home pages are perceived almost simultaneously.
People perceive the "whole" before they perceive
the parts. Although the eye will go immediately to the
company logo or name (as a part) after perceiving the
"whole" or overall visual character of the
home page. Thus, the company credibility-based logo
design and the home page design must have a consistency
in credibility design "look." For example,
the logo cannot have a contemporary design and the home
page a dated design.
The bottom line is that the whole visitor perception,
logo and home page, must communicate credibility to
assure the visitor continues at this initial web experience
--- at "first glance."
How Does Visitor "First Glance"
Work to Gain Website Credibility?
As mentioned, one of the first things a visitor sees
upon landing on a website is the company logo. "Who
is behind this website?" we ask ourselves. The
company's logo must be credibility-based. That is, the
logo must have credibility traits appropriate for the
Credibility based logo design projects the company
as being an expert in their business symbolizing
the company core competence and communicates
the company as being trustworthy and believable. I sometimes
add that a company must be believable at being able
to do the work for which it claims to be an expert.
Expertise and trustworthy define the
two import credibility traits for a given company. Take
Continental Airlines for example circa 1968, one of the
author's many logo projects. "Flying" is Continental's basic
business or expertise. Continental's logo symbol
communicated "flying" as an abstract jet stream.
Credibility-based logo design also communicates the company
as trustworthy with recognized non-verbal design
motifs. Continental's reputation for high service was communicated
by making the "flying" symbology "high tech", "state-or-the-art"
and "friendly". These trustworthy traits were communicated
in a contemporary design motif quite suitable for 1968 and
maybe even today. University supervised research demonstrated
that successful logos --- logos that work to help achieve
company goals --- are indeed credibility-based.
© William L. Haig, Ph.D. or Bill Haig, Ph.D. 2007
This is an original work of
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