Your site is the first and foremost point of contact between you and your customers. Like a business card or a handshake, the design and content of your website will determine your initial credibility and change how clients interact with your business.
Internet users only need 0.05 seconds to form an opinion of a new website. In this short timeframe, they decide whether your business is worth their attention. If they trust you, they’ll stick around.
Every user that stays past that first fraction of a second could become your next client. The more people who listen to your pitch, the higher your revenue will be.
Good website design is the easiest way to establish and maintain credibility with your users. By providing a fluid user experience and remaining transparent with your brand identity, you can build the foundation for a lastingly positive relationship with your clients.
Different Types of Credibility
There are four types of credibility components. Every kind of credibility builds on the last to sculpt your company’s reputation as a whole.
- Surface credibility comes from appearances and is mostly under your control. You can gain surface credibility by having a good site design, providing clear information, and establishing a positive brand identity.
- Reputed credibilitycomes from word-of-mouth. When other people vouch for your product or business, new customers are encouraged to give your services a try.
- Presumed credibility occurs when a brand’s reputation precedes the product or service. Major brands often generate this automatically. It’s maintained when the brand sticks to the high standards expected of them.
- Earned credibility exists between a business and each client. When someone has an excellent experience working with your company, you have earned your credibility with that person.
Most website designs try to influence surface credibility. Sites that display customer reviews and testimonials are relying on reputed credibility. Significant brands make references to their presumed credibility all the time. And if you keep every promise on your website, you’ll gain a great deal of earned credibility with your new customer base.
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14 Tips to Increase Your Website’s Credibility
Credibility comes from legitimacy and follow-through. Luckily, there’s nothing more legitimate than creating a great website that your clients want to use. Run through this checklist to make sure that your site isn’t missing out on the chance to make a good impression.
1) Create a Beautiful Design
Users want beautiful websites. Thirty-eight percent of users will leave a site simply because the design is unattractive.
In many cases, “beautiful design” means pure, accessible, and comfortable. No one wants to think too hard about your navigation or your home page. Skip the flashing banners, obnoxious colors, and decorative fonts that are impossible to read. Instead, you want clean text, simple graphics, and soothing color palettes that encourage the customer to stick around.
White space is popular in modern design because it creates a relaxed visual experience. Don’t overcrowd your page; there should be room to breathe between images and sections. White space is also an excellent choice for responsive designs because you can shrink or increase the space to match the size of the browsing window.
Great designs usually include attractive graphics. Find interesting stock photos that match your brand identity while adding a touch of color and excitement to the page.
The ultimate test for a great-looking website is whether it makes you smile. If you open the page and cringe at the font choice, it’s time to update the design. Here’s one … what do you think?
2) Make It Easy to Navigate
Even if it only contains text and images, your website still acts as an interface for your users. Their ability to navigate the site and find the information they need will have a significant impact on your overall credibility.
Choose a contemporary navigation style that makes sense for the site you’re trying to create. Most modern websites feature navigation at the top of the page and an additional sitemap at the bottom. Drop-down menus are traditional and practical, but some sites prefer to use pop-up navigation because it works better on mobile devices.
Modern users still expect to be able to reach the site’s home page by clicking on your company’s logo. Interestingly, your visitors are six times more likely to find the link if you place your logo at the top left of the page. If you move it to the center or the right, they won’t realize that your logo is clickable.
As a general rule of thumb, every part of your site should be accessible from the home page. If you have nested categories, making them easy to find, users shouldn’t need to click more than two or three times to find a piece of information.
3) Check Your Spelling
Spelling errors cause an instant credibility hit,and your company might struggle to recover from it. Grammar errors aren’t quite as bad, but they still cause customers to doubt the legitimacy of your business.
Forty-three percent of users think bad grammar is unattractive. Text mistakes are incredibly jarring for readers. They ruin the flow of good content and make you think twice about the sentence you just read.
If you’re building a professional site, you should consider hiring a copywriter to develop your content. They’ll communicate your message in a way that builds credibility and makes it easy for users to get the information they’re seeking. They can also offer proofreading and editing services for copy you’ve already drafted.
Whether you hire a writer or craft your content, you should always proofread thoroughly before publication. Start by using anexcellent spell checking tool – don’t trust the one provided by your word processor. Ask a friend to look over your content so that they can find any errors that you missed.
No matter how careful you are, spelling and grammar mistakes are inevitable. Fix the problem as soon as you notice it; your users care more about responsiveness than a perfect track record.
4) Provide Contact Information
One of the easiest ways to prove that you are a real and legitimate business is to provide contact information. Even if your visitors don’t reach out, having the option will still make them feel more comfortable.
A basic contact form isn’t enough to establish credibility. These forms force the user to communicate solely on your terms. Once they hit “send,” there’s no proof that you received the message or that they even filled out the form in the first place.
Contact forms are essential for modern sales practices, so you shouldn’t take yours off the site. Instead, pair your form with an email address, a phone number, and an address if your business has a physical location. Place this information at the top of your contact page so that users can see it right away.
Automated reply systems are an excellent way to establish contact credibility. If users fill out your form, they should receive a message that confirms their submission and mentions how long they’ll need to wait for a response. The automated reply should also include an email address where they can forward any additional questions.
5) Link to Credible Sites
External links are excellent for your website. They improve your search engine rankings, provide value to your clients, and connect your company to the rest of the digital sphere.
Linking out to other websites can also improve your site’s credibility, but only if the links are too credible sources. Cite facts from reliable resources, and link to publications that you trust. Research to make sure facts are correct before you claim them as your own.
6) Display Testimonials
Testimonials increase your surface credibility by showing that you have reputed credibility in other communities. A good review isn’t quite the same as having the customer’s friend recommend your product, but enough positive testimonials can do wonders for the public perception of your brand.
First, it’s essential to recognize that some testimonials are better than others. When you publish a review, you’re aligning your brand identity with that client’s impression of your company. Essentially, you’re vouching for the client just as much as they’re vouching for you.
Once you have a good collection of testimonials, you need the right way to display them. You can create a dedicated section, add a few plugs to your “About” page, or even put a rotating testimonial carousel on the front of your website.
Pull quotes are a great way to work testimonials into your service pages. Only use one or two relevant testimonials on each page, and find creative ways to blend them with the rest of your design.
eCommerce sites gain a lot of credibility by publishing reviews beneath the product listing. Although testimonials provide some reliability, you’ll gain the most rapport by letting customers post their own reviews. Remember to moderate your reviews to avoid bots and scammers.
7) Use Social Proof
Social proof lies in its own category of credibility. Generally speaking, users tend to assume that if other people liked your product, they will too. The more positive numbers that you can associate with your brand identity, the more credibility your business will gain.
Social proof comes in many different forms, and the type that you use will depend on your business. Here are just a few examples:
- Thousands of subscribers follow your YouTube channel and watch your weekly uploads.
- An industry magazine ran a positive article about your products.
- Your company has received a high rating on a popular review site.If you have a legitimate social proof for your business, you should show it off on your website. Only use examples that you know will strengthen your overall brand.
Here’s how Ahrefs.com includes social proof on their homepage.
Notice the text next to the sign-up button. They had over 2,000 people new users in the last 7 days!
8) Include Legal Pages
Adding a legal disclaimer is an incredibly simple way to improve your credibility. It lets customers know that you care about their safety and are mindful of the legal implications of your business model.
Only use legal policies that are relevant to your business. Popular examples include privacy policies, terms of service, email policies, and product disclaimers. Do your research before crafting the page, and always consult with your lawyer.
9) Add Trust Seals
A trust seal is a small badge or mark granted to your company by an external organization. These seals inform customers that your business practices are legitimate and reviewed by an overseeing force.
If you’re looking for a trust seal, check with your eCommerce platform or your payment processor. These companies are proud to give out badges that advertise the security of their products. Display the seal on your checkout page to let customers know that it’s safe to enter their credit card information.
You can also get trust seals by joining organizations. When you display this kind of seal, you’re relying on that group’s rapport to help boost your own business. You may need to take a pledge, pay a membership fee, or run your business according to specific standards. Only seek trust seals from companies that reflect positively on your brand.
Don’t make the mistake of designing your trust seal. This practice was widespread in the early days of the internet, but most security-savvy customers know that a trust seal needs legitimate backing. If they click on the seal and find nothing behind it, you’ll lose more credibility than you’ll gain.
10) Improve Loading Times
A Google study showed that increasing loading times by as little as 0.5 seconds decreased revenue by as much as 20%. Sites that load quickly gain more rapport, while slow sites are often ditched before the images have completely rendered.
Minimalist web designs load more quickly. Try to avoid large files, high-resolution images, and animations. If you run an eCommerce site, cut any plugins that make your storefront slow. Reduced loading times almost always translate into more users who are willing to engage with your website.
11) Include Human Faces
Internet communication comes with a bit of uncertainty. You can’t know someone’s identity unless you meet them face to face. That’s why many companies boost their credibility by putting their faces online.
You don’t need to plaster your face all over your website, but your customers will appreciate at least a small photo on your about page. If you work for a larger company, use the face of a spokesperson or a picture of the entire team.
Using stock photos of people won’t increase your credibility. Stock photos that are too obvious might make your pitch seem fake. Most users know that the stock models have never even heard of your company, so their smiles will do nothing for your brand.
On the other hand, photos of employees and video testimonials from actual customers can have a surprisingly positive effect. Try putting pictures on your blog or your “About Us” page for an instant credibility boost.
12) Add Photos of Your Office
Another great way to connect with your customers is to publish photos of your physical location. By showing off your headquarters, you establish your brand as existing outside of the digital realm.
Hire a photographer to take great photos of your office building. If you rent, check with the landlord to see if promotional pictures are okay.
Exterior photos should show off the view around your office, and interior images should be inviting. Like any storefront or lobby, you want clients to feel welcome as they take a virtual tour of your business.
Office pictures are a great addition to your “About Us” and “Contact Us” pages. You should also consider posting them to any relevant social media profiles.
13) Offer a Sales Guarantee
Credibility is often earned by making promises and following through on them.
Sales guarantees are a promise that your company will provide a high-quality product that customers can rely on you. Whether you offer a return policy, a speedy turnaround time, or a standard of excellence, advertising this information on your website can help customers create an expectation for working with your brand.
Carefully consider tying in a guarantee with your business. Once you’ve made the promise, you can’t back down. Money-back guarantees are extremely popular because refunds are a standard business practice; as long as you’re willing to stand behind the quality of your work, you have nothing to lose.
14) Regularly Update Your Content
Activity is a sign of legitimacy that leads to credibility. If your business regularly produces content, finishes projects, and stays active on social media, new clients will naturally start flowing in.
One of the easiest ways to display company activity is by running a blog. Choose a posting schedule that you can keep up with; clients care about consistency. Consider hiring a blogger to help you generate ideas and maintain a level of quality appropriate for your business.
You should also frequently update your portfolio or case studies with new client projects. Include client testimonials in your showcase projects for an extra credibility boost.
As you increase your company’s online activity, focus on the quality of your content. Every status update impacts your company’s identity. Sometimes, you’ll gain the most credibility by saying nothing at all.
Credibility Builds Up Over Time
The most potent types of credibility are earned. Customers who follow a major brand often have directly positive experiences with their products. Returning clients come back because they appreciate the way your products and service. You might get referrals because people are sure that their friends will love your business as much as they do.
Improving your website is the first step to increasing your brand’s credibility, but it’s important to remember that a strong identity builds up over time. A great website means nothing if you don’t have a reliable and competent business to support it. As long as you approach every part of your brand with earnestness and integrity, you’ll be amazed at the rapport you build with your client base.
Lisa Parmley launched her first online course business in 2001 and has successfully run it for the last 19 years. She writes about how to start and scale an online course business at coursemethod.com.