The influence of structural and message features on Web site credibility



This article explores the associations that message features and Web structural features have with perceptions of Web site credibility. In a within-subjects experiment, 84 participants actively located health-related Web sites on the basis of two tasks that differed in task specificity and complexity. Web sites that were deemed most credible were content analyzed for message features and structural features that have been found to be associated with perceptions of source credibility. Regression analyses indicated that message features predicted perceived Web site credibility for both searches when controlling for Internet experience and issue involvement. Advertisements and structural features had no significant effects on perceived Web site credibility. Institution-affiliated domain names (.gov, .org, .edu) predicted Web site credibility, but only in the general search, which was more difficult. Implications of results are discussed in terms of online credibility research and Web site design.