Appearances Matter!

From the response to my last blog post, I’m gathering that the presentation of information is important when assessing its validity – does the website look good? Is the format clear and easy to follow? Does it look “polished” or illustrate thoughtfulness/intentionality in its design?

The underlying assumption here, I think, is that one wouldn’t go to such lengths to present false information? Or perhaps that organizational skills are related to knowledge/competence? Or perhaps good presentation speaks to caring about the information? Or to money and resources?

I’m really trying to unpack this, because I agree – what a site LOOKS like has a strong impact on my reaction to it. So, my question for this week: what specific elements of presentation suggest quality information? which elements raise red flags? Why?


5 thoughts on “Appearances Matter!

  1. Carli says:

    I think part of the issue or even impossibility of this question is that not everyone will answer it the same. One person’s clear, engaging presentation might be another person’s garbled or unimpressive design. However, I think that appearance can often be one of the clues that people use to evaluate information they find online since there are often few other clues about an author’s credentials. For one thing, a modern design might be used to guess whether information is up-to-date in the absence of information about when it was published. Personally, I care less about design and more about clear links and/or citations, but neither of these are always included on all sites, which can lead some to fall back onto more aesthetic criteria for deciding which sources to rely on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you’re completely right about the subjectivity of aesthetics, which is a big part of why I wanted to explore this angle! I know I won’t be able to come up with a perfect list of criteria, but if I can get a sense of what people look for and how they evaluate the content they view, I might be able to generalize even just a little bit to help me become a better evaluator myself!


  2. I agree with Carli – what makes a website “valid” is completely subjective. In some ways, it’s similar to resumes & CV’s. (I’m working on mine now…) I’ve shared it with a few colleagues and my sister; my colleagues (who work in a similar field and that I see on a regular basis) pretty much liked what I had stated and the format it was presented in. On the other hand, my sister (who works in a different field) thought differently. She offered a valid perspective, but it was completely contrary to the previous advice I had received.

    Using this resume/CV experience as my inspiration for this response, I believe that YOU (and only you) have to stand behind what you’re putting out there. You’ll produce what you believe in and what you honestly represent. It is up to others to determine what they believe and ultimately gravitate towards. As we progress, we will all likely pick up on aspects of “things” (spacing, colors, font choices, writing styles, connectedness with other ideas/articles, etc.) from others that we like, and will continue to incorporate those ideas in our own work. But I believe if you’re thoughtful, inquisitive, and strive for the best, you’re already on the way to producing something good.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think the point about resumes being viewed differently from the perspectives of different fields is very interesting and can definitely be applied to the presentation of online information. I think how valid a person believes a source is depends not only on the person’s subjective opinion, but also on the purpose that the information serves. If I’m looking for a cute restaurant for a fun girls’ day out, then I’m looking for a cute website. If I’m looking for factual information as I research for my lessons, then I want a more professional site.

    Of course, there are some aspects that may relate to a variety of situations. As Carli mentioned, clear links and a clear organizational format is important, probably no matter what you’re looking for. On a personal, subjective opinion note, my English teacher side is always sensitive to grammar mistakes. One mistake here or there is not an issue, but even if I’m not looking for professional information, a severe lack of editing will probably lead me to search for another source.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree – the viewer’s purpose is important, and that isn’t stressed enough. I feel like I’m always telling my students to consider who created the content, but rarely do I remind them to think about their own reasons for seeking out that information, which would probably be helpful when deciding how to assess a particular site!
    I also agree about the grammar/editing point – for me, that’s a big red flag, although I’m not sure it necessarily should be. It points to one person creating the work without external input, which may or may not be problematic, depending on what you need the information for, and it doesn’t necessarily make the content incorrect. Still, I tend to shy away from sites with major grammatical/editing problems too.
    Thank you all for your input!


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