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PUTTING YOUR TRUST IN WEBSITES.

03 September

Directory_website_development

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A few weeks back, we highlighted the importance of a great looking website in building online trust. Even now there are far too many large, premium brands who don’t have the online presence to match their offline importance, and this will undoubtedly put potential customers off using them.

Here at Theme, we always try to press home to all of our clients how vital it is to have a good site, no matter its size or purpose. Quite a few of our clients say they won’t ever get business through their site because they’re in a niche with very few competitors; their site is just as a ‘credibility check’ when potential customers look them up online. But even in this example, an impressive website is key – after all, there’s no point having a site for credibility that looks anything but trustworthy.

So, here are a few things to make sure your site appears trustworthy. They’re easy to achieve, don’t cost the earth to implement and can lead to big wins – so what are you waiting for? Read on, then put them in place!

1 – Looking good?

This may sound obvious, but the first step to making your site look trustworthy is making it look good! Now, good means different things to different people, but some guidelines would include:

– putting thought into site organisation and navigation. A confusing, untidy site will, at best, frustrate your users and, at worst, make them think that you don’t know what you’re on about. Poor site structure also makes it hard for users to find the information they want which results in a poor user experience and a lower opinion of your business.

– stay consistent. Whether it’s colours, fonts, buttons or wording, your users will find your site easier to use if they can quickly work out where they are and what’s expected of them. And the less thinking your user has to do, the better their experience and, in turn, perception of your site.

– bear your audience in mind when deciding on design features. The reason ‘good’ web design means different things to different people is because expectations of websites vary between age groups, education levels, and cultures. For example, younger audiences often favour a ‘flat’ design (where buttons don’t have a 3D-effect to make them stand out) as they’re used to sites with a minimalistic look. However, older users find this style of site harder to use as the buttons don’t stand out.

– colour scheme can have a huge impact on a site’s perceived value. Lots of white space, for example, makes a site feel cleaner and less cluttered which increases user enjoyment.

2 – Check, check, and check again

How many sites – or printed materials for that matter – have you been happily reading through when you suddenly spot a typo? It changes your perception of the site, doesn’t it? Especially if that’s in a professional setting – after all, if they can’t get their own site right, how will they be able to perform whatever tasks you’ll be asking of them? Things like broken links are another bone of contention for users (and not only does it damage your credibility, but will also be impacting your SEO, too). If your site is in WordPress, there are plenty of spelling and grammar checkers available. Similarly, several free and paid tools will scan your site for broken links. There’s no reason your site should be tripping up so easily!

3 – Be upfront.

There’s no quicker way to destroy someone’s trust than hiding important information from them. Hiding content unnecessarily behind gated forms, only adding on postage fees right at the end of the buying process, not displaying pricing clearly (especially an issue on B2B sites where services are often listed as POA) – all those and more give the impression that your company is trying to hide something.

4 – Share the love

A user is typically on your site for research purposes, and you’re fooling yourself if you think they won’t be looking elsewhere as well. So, make it easy for them. If you’re featured on a well-known review site in your industry – like TripAdvisor in the tourism sector – don’t make your customers hunt around to find it. Link to it, along with any other mentions you’ve had, that will help a visitor decide whether to use you. Why is this important? Well, for a start it gets back to the previous point about transparency – if you’re not linking to that important review site that your users will know you’re on, why not? But it’s also about making your customers’ journeys easier. The worry online used to be that once you sent a user away from your site they wouldn’t return, so no one wanted to link anywhere, even if the end destination was a positive one. But people are visiting several sites as part of the research process anyway, so why not set yourself apart by providing all the info they need. If they like you, they’ll be back.

A note on the importance of trust

It’s a strange quirk of the online world that while a good website makes you look more trustworthy, being a trusted brand makes your website appear better. An example of this is a story from one of the world leaders in user testing who were getting people to accomplish tasks on a wide variety of websites. The site of a very well-known and well-liked electronics brand was running particularly slowly and the user was struggling to complete tasks as a result. Their opinion? “Ooh, you can tell this a good and popular brand – look how slowly their site is running because of all the people using it.” When the same user was on a lesser-known brand who’s site was running at a fraction of the slugishness of their slick competitor, they said: “Well, this is really poor. I would have given up by now and found a different site.” The trusted brand now looked even more trustworthy – not because of their site but because of their reputation.

In summary, a website is an essential part of a company’s marketing toolkit. It builds brand trust and reputation as well as providing an obvious platform for interaction and conversion. However, it sits alongside the wider world too and perception of your brand is fluid and influenced by many factors which are both in and outside of your control.

Theme Group know how to build the right website for your business. Find out about our website services here

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