When a visitor lands on your small business website while searching for a business or service you offer, he or she will make up their mind in a matter of seconds whether to stay … or bounce away and try the next site that comes up in the search results.
One of the main things that will make that visitor stay, and go on to browse (hopefully answering your call to action with a request for a quotation or a call-back) is whether your website exudes an aura of credibility and trustworthiness.
Our website designers at Dentons Digital rate the trust factor very highly when it comes to building a site that successfully attracts and converts new customers. Obviously, particularly if the website is an e-commerce site, the user will expect it to be very clear that their personal information is handled safely and securely. Designing for trust, however, goes far beyond that.
A website conveys to the user an impression and experience of the company as a whole, and design attributes can be put to use to encourage the user to trust the brand, the staff, the message and the goods/services on offer.
It’s all down to social psychology – no website designer worth his/her salt nowadays can operate successfully without knowing the techniques required to engender persuasion, emotion and trust (known as PET in the trade).
Not wishing to get too technical here, let’s just look at some suggestions from our canny designers on how to imbue a website with that all-important feeling of trustworthiness:
- Inject personality into the site by means of using real life pictures and video of real people and real things. In other words, avoid stock photos where possible and use images of the staff, company vehicles, actual work in progress, and so on.
- Include biographical information about the people involved in the business, with any credentials or qualifications and a photograph.
- Keep the layout of the pages simple and uncluttered. Too much “bling” looks cheap and tacky, and that goes for mixed and ill-matched typography, bad kerning, flashing animations and random pop-ups too. Tacky equates to shady and shiftless for most users, when the message you want to convey is just the opposite.
- Avoid exaggerated marketing fluff and advertorial in the content. Don’t make claims you cannot back up.
- Most important! Don’t let your site down with spelling mistakes and poor grammar.
- Social proof your website by adding testimonials, user reviews, case studies, feedback and links to your social media pages. Wherever possible quantify the number of customers who have bought into your goods and services.
- Adding a FAQ page illustrates that you’ve been around long enough to be asked lots of questions, and blog or news page archives do likewise.
- Display badge certifications, awards and affiliations to professional/trade bodies.
- Make sure your website (and your social media pages) are up to date. Nothing puts potential customers off more than outdated information. Likewise, be quick to react and engage when you are contacted online.
- Make it easy for site visitors to contact you. A contact form is great, but to engender trust it is even better to include a physical address and telephone numbers.
BONUS: While perhaps the issue of credibility as such is not a factor in SEO, implementing the points we’ve just described above on your website will of themselves each contribute towards a better ranking in the search engines. Trust and credibility is also definitely a factor in successful off-page SEO, where you are seeking quality backlinks from other websites who are reputable and trustworthy themselves.