Research seems to be ever more tightly focused these days… often, the real-world implications of such work is minimal, but one interesting specialized program is the Web Credibility Project, part of the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab. They have even invented the term “captology”:
Like human persuaders, persuasive interactive technologies can bring about positive changes in many domains, including health, business, safety, and education. With such ends in mind, we are creating a body of expertise in the design, theory, and analysis of persuasive technologies, an area called â€œcaptology.â€ …
Captology is the study of computers as persuasive technologies. This includes the design, research, and analysis of interactive computing products created for the purpose of changing people’s attitudes or behaviors.
Jargon aside, they are doing some interesting work there, and have come up with a set of guidelines for web credibility. In future posts, we’ll review those guidelines and provide some real-world examples of how to enhance the credibility of web sites you may be responsible for.
Most commercial websites are created for some kind of persuasion – to in initiate a purchase, to promote a company or political candidate, to inform the reader in a way that changes attitudes, etc. It may be a while before “captology” rolls off my tongue, but I like the fact that formal work is being done in this area, and, more importantly, that it is being made available in a way that is accessible to non-academics.