How this exegesis works

Jo Bailey
January 2014

Section summary

  • This website articulates best practice in terms of designing for website credibility. 
  • It also introduces some new concepts that bring increased usability benefits, such as different link types identified via icons.
  • In each Method and Practice essay, 'road to hell' scores are given to demonstrate how ethically taxing certain decisions were.
  • On selected pages, a credibility toggle allows you to see what happens when best practice is disrupted.

Why are you reading this as a website? Put simply, to show, rather than just tell.

An online exegesis

As one of the intents of this project is to demonstrate how best to communicate credibly within the online space, synthesising my research and process with this medium becomes a design expression in its own right. Quite literally, the medium is the message

Bite size

This exegesis covers the process, methods and research underpinnings that have fed into making the LAWA web tool clear, credible, trustworthy and transparent. Findings are presented as a series of essays that can be read autonomously, drawing on the writing for the web principle of ‘chunking’.


A tenet of the LAWA design is the "‘Visual Information Sharing mantra’: overview, zoom and filter, then details on demand" (Shneiderman, 1996). Because of LAWA's diverse audiences and complex terms, it is important that jargon be explained simply, without cluttering the interface for users who do not require these explanations. The solution for LAWA was to use an interactive glossary, where modal popups, accessed via icon buttons or in-text links, give short explanations, and link to more detailed factsheets. This simple ‘drilldown’ principle has been adopted and expanded in Making Good.

Some features to note

Websites should be intuitive and self-explanatory. This is not a ‘how to use’ guide, but a rationale of some of the features you will encounter:

The credibility toggle

Credibility toggle good Credibility toggle bad

On some essay pages, you will find a credibility button. Using this button will toggle the display from a ‘credible’ version (that is, the site as an expression of best practice and my own interpretation of articulating credibility in the online environment) to an ‘incredible’ version relating to the topic of the essay in question. The purpose is not to illustrate ‘bad’ design per se, but rather to present an irreverent illustration of observations made during my research. These alternative design decisions demonstrate – through absence or disruption – the small differences that can alter the perception of online credibility.

Reference link


An extension of normal referencing protocols, this link type opens details of the reference, but also connects to the source material directly (if available digitally). Within academic writing, referencing allows the writer to substantiate claims and demonstrate they understand the wider discourse. Facilitating direct access to the source material may lend even greater validity.

Comment link


A kind of personal footnote, explaining a thought process, giving context, or explaining my position.

Image link and video link


Opens an image or online video to further illustrate a point. As with reference links, this validation-through-context helps demonstrate credibility.

External link

External link

Opens external content on another website in a new browser tab.

Glossary link


The glossary popup need only be accessed if the user does not understand a term; for those that do, the link is unobtrusive. The short-form glossary entry can also be used to access more detailed information via references and links.

Road to hell score

Road to Hell

In each essay you will find a personal reflection on my ethical decision-making. As homage to Milton Glaser’s 12 Steps on the Road to Hell  each decision is considered on a Road to Hell scale (1 being “not ethically taxing”, 10 being “this is absolutely wrong and immoral”). This may seem flippant, but the message is serious – there are ethical dimensions to everything we do as designers, and we should consider our actions and their consequences.

Next: Why LAWA matters: freshwater problems and opportunities