In a 1996 essay, Bill Gates predicted that content would one day be king of the online world. And by most accounts, Gates’ prophesy has been fulfilled. But they’d be wrong. The reason why can actually be found in Gates’ original prediction.
“One of the exciting things about the internet is that anyone with a PC and a modem can publish whatever content they can create,” the Microsoft juggernaut wrote. “The internet also allows information to be distributed worldwide at basically zero marginal cost to the publisher.”
Because content can be created and distributed so easily, it’s not necessarily trustworthy. So while content might draw eyes to the page, it can’t keep them there by itself. Design, it’s been found, is the glue that holds an audience’s attention. People are simply more likely to trust content in a well-designed presentation.
One study asked participants whether they trusted a health-related website. In their decisions, participants cited design-related factors 94 percent of the time. And according to the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, more than 46 percent of people say a website’s design is the No. 1 criterion for determining a company’s credibility.