Back in 2011, I published a scientific study on the psychological design of health behaviour change websites in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR). With my co-authors Prof Thelwall and Prof Dawes, we designed this study with the goal of identifying how to build websites that could promote public health and also help people improve their wellbeing. For instance, we wanted to understand the psychology behind websites that could motivate people to quit smoking, exercise more, or eat healthier foods.

From 2006-2008, I conducted a large study of website credibility on a global anti-poverty campaign, in order to assess the impact of website credibility and trust on target audience’s participation levels. The study found a relationship between website credibility, users’ trust, and their participation levels. The findings suggest that online campaigners need to engineer credible and trustworthy e-campaigns if they wish to maximize their potential impact. The following excerpt describes the practical applications of this study. Passage from the dimensions of website credibility and their relation to active trust and behavioural impact For social marketers, pre-campaign research is called formative research; this is the point where problems are identified, target audiences are considered, solutions are examined and intervention materials are tested. Our study suggest that Website credibility and active trust factors should be addressed during the early campaign planning phases to increase the probability that target audiences find the campaign’s messages believable, safe and motivating. The following suggestions show how the findings in this paper may be applied to online social marketing campaigns. 1. Since Website users may conceptualize campaign Web sites (in part or whole) as the credible source, it may be useful to conceptualize Web sites in human […]