Information literacy on the web : how visual and textual cues contribute to website credibility assessments
Pariera, Katrina L.
Thesis (M.A.)--Georgetown University, 2009.; Includes bibliographical references. One of the most important literacy skills in today's information society is the ability to determine the credibility of the information one finds on the World Wide Web. Users must be able to sort through a staggering number of sources while discerning which of them will provide the best information. In this study, 70 participants assessed the credibility of websites with either a low design quality or high design quality, and either low credibility or high credibility. The high credibility webpage had textual cues such as author name, credentials, and references, while the low credibility webpage lacked these elements and instead had advertisements present on the page. The high design quality webpage had an organized layout with colors and photographs, while the low design quality webpage was disorganized, with no colors or pictures. The purpose of the study was to understand if students relied more on textual or visual cues in determining the credibility of websites, and to understand if this affected their recall of those cues one week later. The results indicate that when viewing a low credibility website, high design quality will not compensate for the lack of credibility, but when viewing a high credibility website, the design quality will supplement the credibility rating. This indicates that the textual cues (or lack thereof) were more important than the visual cues in determining website credibility. The recall test also indicated that credibility perception does impact the participants' recall of both visual and textual cues. Implications are discussed in light of Information Literacy standards and evolutions.