Credibility (learning portfolio 4)

Why is it important that we evaluate credibility of websites?
In a society where internet access has become something of an everyday use it is imperative that as internet users we protect our privacy by only accessing trustworthy sites; as Fogg explains “believability is a good synonym for credibility in virtually all cases (Fogg, 2003).” When surfing the web most people are looking for information that is current, correct and posted by a legitimate source. It is important that you ask yourself questions regarding the age of the information you are looking at, is the site frequently updated, who has written the webpage, what type of domain is the site and whether or not you have searched other sites to compare and contrast (College). These questions are important when browsing the web as if a site is not credible it can be misleading by providing you with wrong information, trying to scam you into giving out personal details, making you pay them an unnecessary fee and/or spreading a virus. By evaluating the credibility of a site you can be saving yourself from a lot of time and effort in re-searching for a credible site or dealing with privacy problems that may have arisen (Fogg, 2003).

 As a student it is entirely important that the credibility of a site is evaluated. Assignments at a university standard must always only be based on peer-reviewed material. There are a lot of websites online that claim to have the answers to your questions, for example, however sites such as these that are not peer-reviewed could be written by anyone and be not entirely correct. It is very simple for someone to create a site that has surface credibility so it is important to delve a little deeper to find out who has published the site and whether the information is current and correct.

Why is Wikipedia not accepted as a credible source for information?
Morrow explains that “a new study from Penn State University claims that 60% of Wikipedia entries might include errors (Morrow, 2012).” Although this study may not be entirely correct I do believe that in almost all cases Wikipedia should not be used as a reliable source of information. Instead, if someone is determined to use it, Wikipedia should be used as a basic beginning point of gaining information from which further more concrete research can be made from peer-reviewed websites and books. Wikipedia is a forum that can be edited publically, meaning that anybody is able to log in and update information on the site. Wikipedia does claim that any incorrect information will be deleted, however, there are thousands of pages on the website and searching through them all for bogus information would be hard to say the least. As Morrow states “according to Wikipedia, Wikipedia does have problems with articles on highly contested issues. It’s not the greatest place to get information on something controversial (Morrow, 2012)” explaining that even Wikipedia admits that the site is subject to being biased due to general members of the public being able to make updates and post information. When it comes to sourcing information it is always best to access peer reviewed material, rather than a public online forum such as Wikipedia.

Anticipated issues that may affect the users’ perceived web credibility in future:

  • Today websites are now modified to be viewed easily on hand held devices such as smart phones or iPad’s, therefore reducing image sizes and in some cases changing the websites format. Judging the website based on its’ aesthetics is made slightly more difficult in some cases because of this – some sites appear the same across all devices and others, regardless of their credibility, change their appearance.
  • The internet has become extremely popular with far more websites running than earlier years and definitely many more to appear. Users perceived web credibility can be affected negatively due to the vast amount of people using the internet, therefore the vast array of websites to explore. With more websites comes the risk of more fraudulent sites, therefore perceivably making it harder to access desired websites.
  • With further mainstream acceptance comes new types of internet users. Younger people, even children, are now able to access the internet  readily and their perception of sites that are fraudulent or misleading is not as good as older more experienced web users in most cases.
  • Due to the increase in amount of websites on the internet it may be beneficial in the future that all sites contain citations and references. In the future, as the internet grows, it may be very important that websites cite where all of their information has come from, no matter the type of site, therefore enhancing the perceived web credibility.

Examples of websites showing the four types of credibility: Presumed, reputed, surface and earned:

1) Presumed Credibility

(McLaflin, 2012)
The Africa Oasis Project webpage comes under the category of presumed credibility as it is a not for profit organisation, the website ends in ‘.org’ and the project is aiming to help out 3rd world regions which is seen as being a selfless act.

2) Reputed Credibility

(JennyCraig, 2012)
Jenny Craig can be seen as having reputable credibility as it is endorsed and recommended by various third parties, most of which are well known celebrities. These celebrities are all popular at the time and show physical signs of the Jenny Craig program working which encourages people to see the site as reputable.

3/4) Surface Credibility and Earned Credibility

(Greensmith, 2012)
Surface credibility refers to someone making a quick evaluation of credibility by browsing the webpage. The Wheels & Dollbaby website looks like it was designed professionally, is kept constantly updated, has no advertisements to confuse or distract viewers, downloads quickly, has a carefully thought about colour scheme with specific font choices and a large professional photograph in the center of the page.

This site also has earned credibility as it is arranged in a way that makes sense, customer service questions are answered promptly, interaction is easy in the fact that navigation is not difficult, you can sign up for regular email updates on new products and can ask to be notified when an item that you want has come back in stock.

Works Cited:
College, S. V. How to Determine a Credible Website. Retrieved from

Fogg, B. J. (2003). Credibility and the World Wide Web In Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What we Think and Do (pp. 122-125). Amsterdam: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.

Greensmith, M. (2012). Wheels & Dollbaby: Clothes to Snare a Millionaire  Retrieved May 31, 2012, from

JennyCraig. (2012). Jenny Craig  Retrieved May 31, 2012, from

McLaflin, M., McLaflin, L. (2012). Africa Oasis Project  Retrieved May 31, 2012, from

Morrow, S. (2012). How Accurate is Wikipedia? Retrieved May 31, 2012, from


Performance Load (learning portfolio 3)

What is Performance Load?
The amount of effort, both physical and mental, used to complete a task is determined by the performance load (Lidwell, 2003). Lidwell and Holden, authors of Universal Principles of Design, explain that performance load is made up of two factors: cognitive load and kinematic load (Lidwell, 2003).

Cognitive load refers to the amount of mental effort needed to reach a goal or complete a task. According to the cognitive load theory, learning is compromised when the cognitive (or mental) load is far too high, therefore by reducing the amount of information portrayed and amount of memory needed the cognitive load becomes more bearable and learning will be enhanced (Plass, 2010).

Kinematic load defines how much physical effort is needed to reach a goal or complete a task. By reducing the amount of kinematic load there is the task at hand will become easier to achieve (Lidwell, 2003).

Once the cognitive and kinematic loads have been minimised as much as possible the performance load will become much more bearable therefore making the task far easier to complete (Lidwell, 2003).

What is ‘Chunking’?
Chunking is described as one of the aspects that can be reduced to improve something’s cognitive load. Chunking is achieved when large amounts of information are compiled together thus making it easier for people to remember what they have read/looked at etc. Miller explains that people are very ignorant when they are exposed to a large variety of information at once, whereas when chunking is applied to compile the information into categories people tend to be far more observant (Miller, 1955).

The reasoning behind chunking is that the human brain only has a certain capacity in terms of working memory, which is where information is manipulated and stored (Malamed). Advance organizers are brief chunks and can be either expository or comparative (Lidwell, 2003).  These brief chunks of information help reduce cognitive load by containing only information that the working memory can withhold whilst summarizing the area of information that is yet to come.

Expository advance organisers come into effect when people have no prior knowledge and must be exposed to new information, whereas comparative advance organisers are best suited for people who do have prior knowledge as they compare the new product/item etc. with previously learned information (Lidwell, 2003).

Ultimately chunking is used to collaborate information into similar categories and to also summarize information. Chunking helps to reduce the cognitive work load by allowing people to remember what they are reading or looking at more easily due to the fact that people are quite ignorant when being exposed to too much information, or information that is very poorly organised or explained (Miller, 1955).  Over all chunking increases comprehensibility, as less time is needed to memorise information, therefore satisfying users.

Is Psychology Necessary in Design?
Visual design is a method of portraying information to an audience; in order for information to be effectively received there must be some sort of understanding behind how to portray information properly. Due to this I do believe that an understanding of psychology, whether only brief or not, to be beneficial when dealing with design techniques. It is not uncommon for design processes to be improved by using psychology. As stated by Benson “The fields of human factors, human–computer interaction, and environmental psychology, of course, have long brought design and psychology together (Benson, 2006).” This statement shows that in order to completely understand how people comprehend information effective one must do some research into the psychological side of design – understanding how people interact with texts, computers and other man-made things will ultimately help in the design process.

Three Examples:
1) Online Banking
 (CommBank, 2012)
Internet banking sites reduce kinematic work load significantly when someone is in possession of a computer, smart phone, iPad or other device with a working internet connection. The kinematic work load is decreased as travelling to a bank, waiting in cues if there are any and then travelling back home is unnecessary. This also reduces the cognitive load as the only mental activity required is remembering the website name and your username and password – no more remembering how to get to the nearest bank branch. Internet banking also decreases cognitive load as the stresses of trying to get to a bank during their opening hours is eliminated – online banking is an option 24/7, 365 days of the year unless there is site maintenance occurring. Despite the fact that some transactions may take longer to go through due to the weekend, public holidays and so forth (which still occurs when visiting a branch), everything can be done at the click of a button from the comfort of being at home. Online banking sites also allows you to set up automated payments at your required intervals so that you don’t forget and also obviously allow you to keep track of your savings at all times.

2) Online Shopping

(SoleStruck, 2012)
Online shopping drastically reduces kinematic load by allowing consumers to shop 24/7 without having to travel from store to store. Consumers are able to search for their favourite items (such as shoes seen on and brands online from stores that are located across the globe. Cognitive load is reduced as figuring out how to get to stores and when no longer matters. Consumers can also sign up to many online stores to receive email updates on new stock thus allowing people to never miss out on new and improved items they may want and/or need. Size conversion and price conversion charts are also a common aspect of online stores allowing people around the globe to know how much something is in their currency and exactly what size will fit their measurements. Unfortunately some online shops do not offer international shipping, not all sites ship items for free and some online stores may overprice goods which can increase kinematic and cognitive load, however, with the help of the internet it is very simple to search for other online shops that may offer the same items for a cheaper price, cheaper or free shipment and offer to ship everywhere.

3) Online Movie Rentals

 (BigPond, 2012)
Being able to rent movies online means that anyone anywhere (with internet accessibility) is able to order movies or tv shows to be sent straight to them, reducing the kinematic load. People no longer have to go out to a rental store or any store to physically browse then purchase something to watch. Instead they can search the show online on a site such as  from the comfort of their own home. Much like the previous two examples, online movie rentals can be done 24/7.

Works Cited:
Benson, E. S. (2006). Psychology by Design  Retrieved May 24, 2012, from

BigPond. (2012). BigPond Movies  Retrieved May 22, 2012, from

CommBank. (2012). Commonwealth Bank of Australia  Retrieved May 22, 2012, from

Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2003). Aesthetic-Usability Effect. In Universal Principles of Design (pp. 148-149). Massachusets: Rockport.

Malamed, C. (2012). Chunking Information for Instructional Design  Retrieved May 22, 2012, from

Miller, G. A. (1955). The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two. Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information. Retrieved from GA Magical Seven Psych Review 1955.pdf

Plass, J. L., Moreno, R., Brunken, R. (2010). Cognitive Load Theory. New York: Cambridge university Press.

SoleStruck. (2012). SoleStruck  Retrieved May 22, 2012, from

Consistency (learning portfolio 2)

What is Consistency?
During design processes decisions must be made in terms of what must be kept relatively consitent (Horn). There are four types of consistency in terms of design: aesthetic consitency, functional consistency, internal consistency and external consistency, and it is these four types that are fundamental in making systems more usable (Lidwell, 2003).  The principle of consistency undermines the idea that systems become easier for people to understand or learn how to use when similar aspects are shown in similar ways (Lidwell, 2003). It is common that most people are able to figure out new devices, systems or how to use a particular product due to similar past experiences, which is basically the underlying focus of the principle of consistency.

Horn states in his text Consistency and the Conditions for Creativity that “creativity is responsible for innovation in ideas and products. Consistency is responsible for widespread use of ideas and products (Horn)” which explains that products that appear new and improved though their creativity generally excel when kept consistent in their own design and with previous designs thus making them easier to use. It is important to achieve this balance between consistency and contrast or creativity in order to create an effective design (White, 2011).

Aesthetic consistency is what allows people to recognise the product in terms of who designed it and how and what it is used for, making it the major communication point of most products. This allows people to not only recognise the company and the product but to also apply their own feelings towards it from past experiences with the same product or similar products(Lidwell, 2003). This then ties into functional consistency, which is solely focused on making new products similar to old products therefore allowing consumers to use their existing knowledge to understand how the product works. Internal consistency focuses on keeping the systems design simple and repetitive thus making it easy to use, and finally external consistency aims to extend the benefits of internal consistency across other elements in the environment (Lidwell, 2003).

Over all consistency is the key to customer loyalty (Turner, 2011). Aesthetic, functional, internal and external consistency are the four main ways in creating usable designs. The principle of consistency undermines the idea that systems become easier for people to understand or learn how to use when similar aspects are shown in similar ways (Lidwell, 2003) therefore making these particular products under high demand.

Three Examples:
1) Remote Control

(Liberty, B. 2012)
Remote controls are a good example of consistency in design. Aesthetically most remote controls, whether for a television, CD player, DVD player or Blu Ray player, are generally very similar therefore enhances people’s recognition of what they are and what they do. Functionally most remotes have channel buttons, volume buttons, numbered buttons, a standby button and so forth which improves learnability among users; if someone has used a particular type of remote before they should be able to apply that existing knowledge on how it functioned when using a new type of remote. Externally most remotes are very similar to one another. All of these factors combine to make the common remote a very consistent and usable design.

2) Street Signs

Street signs are also consistently designed. Street signs are aesthetically very basic which is imperative as drivers must easily be able to see what the sign says as they are driving past. Common colours are used which enhancive recognition and set emotional expectancy (Lidwell, W. 2003). For example stop signs are red as red is most commonly used to stop (ie. in stop lights) and crossing signs are yellow as yellow is commonly placed with hazard signage. These colours also become the functional consistency of the signs as the consistent use of these colours and font throughout all street signs enables people to use their previous knowledge and understand what the signs mean. Internal consistency ensures that the signs are always placed in the correct places showing that there is a system to how they are set up and used. Finally the external consistency of the street signs is that street signs as one system are very similar to work place hazard signs and other signage systems that are designed to alert people.

3) Portable Music Devices (eg. iPod’s and MP3 Players)

(Varias, 2009)
Aesthetically most portable music playing devices are quite similar in the fact that they generally have a screen to display song choice, a play button, pause button, forward and back buttons, a button to make a selection and a hole to plug the earphones into. This enhances recognition of what the product does and for people who have used or been exposed to a similar product before can form their own emotional expectations (Lidwell, 2003). Functionally the use of all those previously named factors make the product more learnable – play, pause, forward, back and select buttons are not only seen on portable music devices such as iPods, MP3 players or tape decks, but can also be seen on remote controls, computers and some phones. This therefore creates a sense of understanding on what the device does. Finally portable music devices are designed internally to correspond with the buttons, for example pressing pause will pause the music, pressing skip will take you to the next song and so forth. This indicates that the “system has been designed, and not cobbled together (Lidwell, 2003).”

Works Cited:
Horn, R. E. The Principle of Consistency and the Conditions for Creativity  Retrieved May 18, 2012, from

Liberty, B. (2012). Rarely-Used Remote Control Buttons  Retrieved May 19, 2012, from

Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2003). Aesthetic-Usability Effect. In Universal Principles of Design (pp. 46). Massachusets: Rockport.

Turner, M. S. (2011). The Consistency Gap: Overcoming Failure in Consistently Executing the Business Plan: iUniverse.

Varias, L. (2009, May 7, 2009). Pmpin’: Anything but iPod’s Mp3 Player Buyer’s Guide.  Retrieved May 20, 2012, from

White, A. W. (2011). The Elements of Graphic Design (Second Edition). New York: Allworth Press.

Aesthetic-Usability Effect (learning portfolio 1)

What is the Aesthetic-Usability Effect?
The aesthetic-useability effect, as explained in Universal Principles of Design, is the idea that products designed to be aesthetically pleasing to most consumers are viewed as being a more practical choice than products that are less aesthetically pleasing (Lidwell, 2003). Of course, not all products that are aesthetically appealing are the best choice in terms of usability and vice versa. It has been shown through extensive research that consumers are drawn to products first for their physical appearance and second for their efficiency; Products that simply appear to be better often overlook products that are easier to use (Lidwell, 2003).

It is argued that in order for a product to be aesthetically pleasing it must be harmonious. As described in Design Basics, “harmony can be defined as a pleasing arrangement of parts (Lauer, 2002)” which refers to anything that is pleasing to the senses i.e. sight, sound, touch and so forth. Harmonious qualities are what cause something to be aesthetic which in turn helps that particular thing become more readily accepted. Consumers seem to be drawn towards products with improved appearances regardless of whether they are or are not efficient to use; not all people can accept that aesthetics don’t always coincide with usability as in most cases the opposite occurs (Tractinsky, 1997).

While usability is often neglected for aesthetics it does not mean that all products that are pleasing to the eye are non-efficient. The idea of aesthetic-usability is simply that most consumers are drawn to products almost solely because of their physical attributes regardless of the level of efficiency. Mark Boulton argues that the design industry is beginning to understand this concept therefore “usability is becoming somewhat of a given (Boulton, 2005)”. Industries can claim that they are becoming more focused towards the user, however, it can not be entirely proven that these industries are creating products where the aesthetics are not in the way of the usability. Until then, the aesthetic-usability effect continues to define consumerism; People are more interested in the way something looks as opposed to the way it works.

Three Examples:
1) The iPhone

(Wholesale, D. 2012)
The Apple iPhone is a great example of the aesthetic-usability effect. The iPhone has been effectively designed to be visually appealing as well as a practical product. The iPhone has not only been designed to be aesthetically pleasing, but also shares a relationship with every other Apple product – consumers can apply a personal relationship with this product due to previous experiences with other Apple products such as the iPod, MacBook or iPad (Lidwell, 2003). However, the usability of an iPhone has come under some scrutiny. It is not the most technologically advanced smart phone on the market but despite this it still costs more than others with better usability. The aesthetics of the phone are what draw consumers to it with many people willing to pay that little bit extra just to own an iPhone, despite the fact that its’ aesthetics do not necessarily coincide with the usability (Tractinsky, 1997).

2) Facebook

(Bruner, J. 2011)
Facebook is another example of aesthetic-usability, however, in this case it can be argued that the aesthetics of Facebook actually enhance the usability. With their constant updating Facebook is almost guaranteeing a higher probability of being used (Lidwell, 2003). Not only are the updates quite frequent they also enhance the look and functionality of the site without needing to shut it down momentarily. An indication of Facebook’s aesthetic-usability can be seen by the vast movement of people leaving MySpace and opting to use Facebook instead. The perception that Facebook is easy to use comes down to the simple blue and white colour scheme, the fact that all posts are collaborated in chronological order, addition of profile pictures next to posts and so forth which not only pose as aesthetics but also improve the accessibility and usability of the site.

3) Stiletto Heels

Stiletto heels are often sought after, however despite their aesthetic appearance most wearers realise that they are not as comfortable as they would hope them to be. Footwear was once designed to both protect the wearer from the environment and to give them added support. Stiletto heels do in some ways protect the wearer from the environment, however, they are more so aesthetically pleasing than functional. The aesthetic-useability effect, as explained in Universal Principles of Design, is the idea that products designed to be aesthetically pleasing to most consumers are viewed as being a more practical choice than products that are less aesthetically pleasing (Lidwell, 2003). In the case of the stiletto, the outward appearance is what is sought after despite the lack of usability. People wear these shoes to make a fashion statement, despite the fact that they are uncomfortable, bad for your feet, can cause back problems through excessive wear, are not practical to walk or stand in for long periods of time and can contribute to falling. However, in the world of footwear and fashion aesthetic-usability prevails as stiletto heels are far more sought after than a pair of comfortable, arch supporting running sneakers.

Works Cited:
Boulton, M. (2005). Aesthetic-Usability Effect  Retrieved May 9, 2012, from

Bruner, J. (2011). Is Facebook Swallowing Up the Internet’s Data?  Retrieved May 20, 2012, from

Lauer, D. A., & Pentak, S. (2002). Balance. Design Basics (pp. 75-98). Australia: Wadsworth.

Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2003). Aesthetic-Usability Effect. In Universal Principles of Design (pp. 18-19). Massachusets: Rockport.

Tractinsky, N. (1997). Aesthetics and apparent usability: empirically assessing cultural and methodological issues.  Retrieved Retrieved May 9, 2012, from

Wholesale, D. (2012). IPHONE 4 ACCESSORIES, COVERS & MORE  Retrieved May 9, 2012, from



Sunday the 3rd of June, 2012




June 2018
« Jun    


  • 1,299 hits