The ‘Stanford Guidelines for Web Credibility‘ published by the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab serve as 10 guidelines for building the credibility of your blog. The guidelines are based on three years of research that included over 4,500 people.
The ten, with slight modifications to make more appropriate for lawyers and law firms.
- Make it easy to verify the accuracy of the information on your site. Providing third-party support (citations, references, source material) for information you present, especially if you link to this evidence, adds credibility.
- Show that there’s a real organization (a law firm) behind your site. Showing that your web site is for a legitimate organization will boost the site’s credibility. List your address and association with the firm.
- Highlight your expertise in your organization and in the content and services you provide. Are you an authority or do you have an authority on your team? Be sure to give credentials. Are you affiliated with a respected organization? Make that clear. Conversely, don’t link to outside sites that are not credible. Your blog becomes less credible by association.
- Show that honest and trustworthy people stand behind your blog. You’ve shown there are real people behind the site and in the organization. Now, find a way to convey their trustworthiness through images or text. Post bios that describe your background, including personal interests, e.g., family and outside interests.
- Make it easy to contact you. A contact page with phone number, physical address, and email address.
- Design your blog so it looks professional (or is appropriate for your purpose). Research found that people quickly evaluate a site by visual design alone. When designing your site, pay attention to layout, typography, images, consistency issues, and more. Critical for lawyers and law firms.
- Make your blog easy to use — and useful. Research shows that sites win credibility points by being both easy to use and useful. Some site operators forget about users when they cater to their own company’s ego or try to show the dazzling things they can do with web technology. Because you’re a lawyer does not make you an expert on everything, including blog design and development.
- Update your blog’s content often. People assign more credibility to sites that show they have been recently updated or reviewed. Once a week is fine for a law blog.
- Use restraint with any promotional content (e.g., ads, offers).If possible, avoid having ads on your site. If you must have ads, clearly distinguish the sponsored content from your own. Avoid pop-up ads, unless you don’t mind annoying users and losing credibility. As for writing style, try to be clear, direct, and sincere.
- Avoid errors of all types, no matter how small they seem.
Print this one out and hand it to your blog developer and to the unknowing who want to over-lawyer your blog design and development