Is your website trustworthy?
Much has been written about what makes a website secure, but what makes visitors to your website trust it? And does your website come up to scratch?
This has been researched over many years, and the conclusion is that there are 4 main things that affect how much someone trusts your website.
Design quality matters, your website must look professional and suitable to your business, for example a lawyers firm or accounts may well want to project a sober and serious look, whereas a nursery school will want to look bright and fun. Try and avoid flashy gimmicks, especially if they slow your site down, as once people get over the "wow" factor they will want to get to the content quickly. Choose a colour scheme that reflects your industry.
The layout and organisation of your website must be clear, so people can find what they want quickly, avoid gimmicky menu headings and unusual navigation ideas, people will quickly get frustrated if they can't find the information they want, and your competitor is only the next item down the list on google! This may sound obvious, but you often see menu headings with "quirky" names that don't clearly identify the content beneath.
Typos, broken links and other mistakes on your website quickly degrade trustworthiness, people notice, more than you realise. Mistakes on what is often peoples first impression of your business will quickly make them wonder if the rest of your business practices will lack such attention to detail.
Prices: Be as upfront as possible with your visitors, especially with pricing. It's surprisingly well ingrained that "if you have to ask the price you can't afford it" and if customers feel they have to talk to a "pushy salesman" just to get a quote they will start to feel uneasy. This goes for corporate customers as well as sales to the public.
If your business is one where pricing has to be "on quote" for every job, at least try to have example prices for sample jobs so people get a feel for your pricing. I design websites, and have a range of "Standard" packages which I display the prices of clearly, however I do note that if your website will fall outside the "standard" you may need a quote. A builder may have sample prices for an average loft conversion, with a few pictures.
Contact Details: Be as upfront as possible with contact information as well, small businesses are often "work from home" types of things, so if you don't want people knocking at your door make it clear you cannot accept visitors but do have an address people can write to, people put a lot of trust in letters even these days. At the very least get a PO Box.
Make sure that as well as email, people have a way of ringing you. If you have some good reason not to be able to take calls, make that reason clear.
Asking for information: Do you sometimes come across a website that asks for some information from you before they will show you anything? It's less common, but asking for any personal information too quickly can degrade trust. People are uneasy with handing over any sort of contact details until they are confident who they are dealing with.
If your business is geographically dependant, then offer a way of entering location details but don't block the rest of your site until you have that!
Comprehensive and current content
Information, Information, Information: Make sure you have a wide range of information on everything you do, for example if you are an electrician who works with businesses and home owners, don't fall into the temptation of concentrating on one aspect over the other. People in the neglected category will simply go back to google and click the next link down.
As an example, an estate agent recently lost business as they focussed mainly on business lettings, and my friend was selling their house. Already worried after looking at the website she asked them round for a valuation. I'm certain that websites first impression helped make her feel that home sales was a sideline the business didn't take terribly seriously no matter how hard the agent tried to convince her otherwise.
But remember, organise that information well, don't have long pages of text, break it up, preferably into an introductory page with more comprehensive and detailed secondary pages, people may not read the details, but they will feel more confident of you when they see it's there.
Current Content: You'd be surprised how many people will start to lose faith in a website that doesn't seem to be being kept up to date, make sure you have at least got something like a "last modified date" on each page, and if you deal with something which changes regularly, for example taxes, make sure you always have the most recent details up there.
A very quick way to do this is to maintain a "blog" or on-line journal, in which you can detail latest offers, business changes and so on. Once again, people may not always read about how you have just employed Bob at your building company, but the fact you have that new information helps make them trust your website is up to date.
What can be a real turn off is when your website is so out of date people start to wonder if you are still in business, and that can quickly lead to them going back to google and on to the next item in the search results.
Connection to the rest of the web
Your website should not exist in isolation, this is after all the "world wide" web. Perhaps facebook and twitter are not your style, but do try and have some sort of presence on at least facebook. Make sure your physical location, if you have one, is owned by you on google maps. One you have that you will find people like to leave reviews if they like your business. Do keep up with these though, deal openly with complaints and show you are trustworthy.
More and more people are making decisions based on what other sources of information they can find about you, they look for reviews, comments and recommendations, a sort of virtual "word of mouth"
These 4 aspects of your website all contribute to peoples feeling of trustworthiness when they visit your site. They were first identified in research done in 1999 and current research show that they are still the 4 things that matter. It doesn't look like that's going to change in a hurry.
Posted by Peter
on Tue 9th May 2017 10:54:13
Read 1599 Times
Last Modified on Thu 10th Jan 2019 00:41:36