BJ Fogg – the world’s leading researcher on web credibility – has said that web credibility is about making your website in such a way that it comes across as trustworthy and knowledgeable. Your website is often the first point of contact for the customers, responsible for first impressions and of course sources of revenue. Companies that design for credibility have a strategic advantage over competition.
Website Credibility Checklist
Go over this list and see which of the following items you could add to your own site to boost credibility.
- Web design matters. People judge the book by their cover and your website by its design. If you designed your website yourself and you’re not a designer, it sucks. Like many others before him, Dr. Brent Coker studied the impactof attractive websites on human behavior.This is what he said: “As aesthetically orientated humans, we’re psychologically hardwired to trust beautiful people, and the same goes for websites. Our offline behaviour and inclinations translate to our online existence.”Websites that are more attractive and include more trimmings create a greater feeling of trustworthiness and professionalism in consumers.
- Make your address and phone number visible at all times. Include it in the footer (a must), but depending on your site also in the header (especially if your business depends on incoming calls) and on the sidebar, in the microcopy.
- Make it very easy to contact you. ‘Contact’ link should be always in your navigation menu as the very last link.
- Simple language. People don’t trust what they don’t understand. Write like you talk using the same language your customers do.
- Correct spelling. Broken grammar and incorrect spelling certainly make you seem less credible. It’s more forgivable in blog posts, but unacceptable on your home page, product pages and other more static pages.
- Provide staff bios and photos. People don’t trust anonymous websites. If you don’t show your photo, are you hiding something? Is it that you don’t want people to recognize you on the street? People want to look you in the eye, enable it. Always use photos of the actual staff.
- Show photos of your office. If you have a real office with real people and stuff inside, I’ll believe you more. You don’t need to make yourself appear a bigger company that you are. Avoid stock photos.
- Avoid cheesy stock photos. Nothing says ‘I’m fake’ like suits shaking hands or smiling customer service people with the headset.
- Visible return and refund policies. What happens if I’m not happy with your service? People want to know in advance before making a purchase.
- Email policy. What will you do with my email address once I give it to you? Will you rent it, share it, sell it, spam people?
- Detailed product information. 50% of the online purchases are not completed due to insufficient information. Are there enough details for a reasonable conclusion about the information?
- Show prices. Many companies (and not just B2B) don’t reveal their prices, and make people get in touch instead. People always want to know how much a product or service costs. If your competitors publish their prices, they’re getting the business.
- Mention the number of your clients. If you have an impressive number of customers, say it out loud for social proof (“12 457 happy users” etc).
- Show a link with a reputable organization. Are you somehow connected to a university, a governmental agency, a research lab, or another reputable organization? Perhaps you’re service provider, reseller, partner, sponsor, advisor or what not. If yes, tell the world.
- Use testimonials. Testimonials work well if they’re by real people. Real people means that there are photos, full names, what they do, their employer. Well-known people are even better. Video testimonials are the best.
- Put customer reviews on your site and elsewhere. People still trust them. It’s the upper hand Amazon has on everyone else.
- Display trust marks. Take credit card payments? Prove me it’s safe (256-bit SSL encryption etc). Use The Verisign Seal or equivalent. Have people opt-in to your email list? Put a TRUSTe privacy seal on your site. And so on. Find out what’s a known trust mark on among your customers, and use it.
- Maintain a blog or a latest news section. This does 2 things: 1) it shows your site is constantly updated and 2) provides free information to prove your expertise. A note of caution: if your latest news item was published 2 years ago (‘We launched a new website!’) or your last blog post was written a year ago, it communicates that you might have gone out of business. So if you can’t regularly update your news or blog, you can do one of the 2 things: 1) not have one, or 2) remove the dates.
- A jobs page. You must be a real company if you’re hiring
- Make sure it works. Dead links, non-functional forms and everything else that might seem broken will take away from your credibility.
- Have a social media outlet. If you have an active Twitter account or Facebook page, it furthermore shows there are real people behind the organization.
- No hype, blinking banners nor popups. If your site looks like a Christmas tree, you need to change that. Make sure the copy is hype-free, nothing blinks and just know that people hate all kinds of pop-ups. Don’t use them unless you want to annoy people.
- Keep ads to a minimum. Too many ads kill the user experience and communicate that the user does not come first. Might also make you seem desperate. If your main income does NOT come from ads, don’t use them at all.
- Website speed. If your website is slow and seems to takes forever to load (10+ seconds), people will certainly get doubts about you and leave. Use caching or a CDN. I personally use Cloudflare and am very happy with them.
- Be a good and honest person. If you’re an a** and treat your customers bad, it will come out eventually. Be friendly, generous and honest – always.
- What makes a website credible?
- Attack Resistant Trust Metrics
- Understanding How Internet Users Make Sense of Credibility
- Credibility Checklist Conversion XL