When starting a web business, most startups don’t often consider how difficult it can be to convey credibility and establish trust with a client on their site. Pitching a service or product to a potential client in person is obviously much different than providing the same person with information on that service through a web site or webinar. When face to face, you often can establish credibility and competence through your personal interaction. When a client looks for a service online, though, it is much harder to get a sense of those who are on the other end. The personal interaction, that personal “touch” is often lost online. Visitors are left to judge your service based on the information they read and what they see on your site. If a user thinks your site lacks credibility, they will abandon your site and go elsewhere. On the other hand, there are methods you can employ to convey your company’s credibility online, so your clients can feel more comfortable. After all, who wouldn’t want to increase the number of conversions on their site?
This post is inspired by a research study performed at Stanford University on this topic. This Web credibility study discusses how “creating a usable Web site is no longer sufficient…professionals must design Web sites for credibility as well.” My favorite part of this study are the 10 guidelines they’ve compiled for building credibility of a web site. I share three of my favorites below:
- Make it easy to verify the accuracy of the information on your site. I’m not sure if this list was prioritized but in my opinion this is the MOST important guideline. Including references when you state a quote or testimonials when you promote a service or product on your site is going to build credibility for that service/product and for your web site as well. We are a consulting company that provides virtual teams to early stage internet startups all over the world. Entrepreneurs don’t have a lot of money when they’re just starting and they need to know they can trust us to maximize the return on the precious startup capital they have. In order to further ensure our clients trust, we recently took an additional step to address this and signed up with Crederity*, a service that provides real-time verification of a person’s background and experience. Having visitors trust us when they find us online obviously behooves us. This service provides each one of us and our specialists with Crederity cards that display “Trust Facts” and whether or not they’ve been verified. This kind of transparency shows your consumers you don’t have anything to hide and enhances their trust of your company. Even though we are just getting started with the service, I would recommend considering a service like Crederity’s Trusted Program – not only if you’re a consulting or recruiting firm but to any service that would benefit from providing a sense of assurance to its consumers.
- Show that there’s a real organization behind your site. While related to the above guideline, providing a physical address, e-mail address and phone number allows your visitors to see you as a legitimate site. Also, providing photos for the Management team (another feature Crederity offers) enables users to connect with you.
- Design your site so it looks professional and make it easy to use – and useful. I doubt I’m the only one that leaves a site that seems to have been put together by an amateur or that’s hard to use. As stated in the study, pay attention to the layout, typography, images, consistency, branding, and design. Also, it is extremely important for a site to have a good user interface. If the user’s experience is easy and useful – your site will be perceived as more credible.
* Note: For the sake of full disclosure, Crederity is currently a Team and a Dream client. We believe in their service and are pleased to be an early beta tester of their product.
How well do you score against these guidelines? What can you do to build trust with your site?
By: Yasmine Mustafa