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Consumer health information on the Web: The relationship of visual design and perceptions of credibility



Consumer health information has proliferated on the Web. However, because virtually anyone can publish this type of information on the Web, consumers cannot always rely on traditional credibility cues such as reputation of a journal. Instead, they must rely on a variety of cues, including visual presentation, to determine the veracity of information. This study is an examination of the relationship of people's visual design preferences to judgments of credibility of information on consumer health information sites. Subjects were asked to rate their preferences for visual designs of 31 health information sites after a very brief viewing. The sites were then reordered and subjects rated them according to the extent to which they thought the information on the sites was credible. Visual design judgments bore a statistically significant similarity to credibility ratings. Sites with known brands were also highly rated for both credibility and visual design. Theoretical implications are discussed.