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16 Ways to Make Your Website Seem More Trustworthy

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A typical new visitor to your website will determine whether to stay or leave within the first 15 seconds. Since the web got infinite alternatives to your site, it’s crucial that you immediately instill a sense of trust.

So without further ado, here’s 10, 16 ways to make your site seem more trustworthy at first glance.

1) Invest In Design

Investing in design shows the visitor you're serious

An aesthetically pleasing site will show the visitor that you’re serious and didn’t just hack something together in the dark hours of the night.

A well-designed site (not to confuse with over-designed) shows that you’ve spent time and money on it, instilling trust.

2) Show A Pulse

Display recently-updated content so visitors can see your site is alive an kicking.

It’s important to show new visitors that the content they’re seeing isn’t on some old abandoned site left for the eternal Internet archive.

Display some recently updated content (with a date) to show that your site is up to date. Having a blog or an embedded Twitter feed are great ways to show your site and people behind it are still active.

3) Humanize Your Website

Show pictures or videos of you and your team to humanize your website.

People don’t trust a website – they trust the people / brand behind the website. That’s why you should use real images of you and your team. This way people can see that a real person is behind your site, and not some robot. It humanizes your website.

You can take this a step further by using videos to present you, your team, or your products.

4) Utilize Social Proof

Show that other people trust your site and visitors will be more likely to trust it too.

Social proof – showing that other people use and trust your site – is a very important factor in establishing trust, as it’s deeply rooted in human beings to look at how others behave and then mimic it.

Social proof can be as simple as having a Facebook fans / Twitter followers / RSS subscribers counter or user comments on your site. Alternatively, you can also use more detailed and in-depth “proof” such as customer case studies or video testimonials.

5) Make It Speedy

Your site will be taken more seriously if it loads fast.

Slow loading sites tend to come across as less serious, degrading the trust relationship.

It doesn’t really matter why your site is slow, 47% of all web visitors expect your site to load in 2 seconds or less. You can, however, cheat by speeding up the perceived load time.

6) Familiarity Breeds Trust

Make your site easy to use by tapping into web conventions.

New visitors will feel familiar with your site much faster if it’s easy to use.

A well-structured site tapping into the most common web conventions goes a long way in making your visitors feel familiar with (and thus in control of) your site.

7) Leverage Other Brands

Affiliate yourself with other powerful brands by showing their logos on your site.

Partner logos, services you use, trade organizations you’re affiliated with, places you’ve been reviewed, site seals, etc. – it’s all good ways to leverage the brand power of other organizations. Affiliating yourself with these brands shows you’re in good company, suggesting that the visitor will be in good company with you too.

This is why you often see sites boast “Seen in New York Times” and so on – even if the actual mention had negative elements. If you sell something and don’t have any other brands to tap into then simply showing the logos of credit cards you accept on your site is better than nothing.

8) Who Are You?

Craft a good about page so the visitor can familiarize themselves with you and your brand.

A good about page is a great way to quickly instill trust in new visitors curious about your site.

Make the visitor feel she knows you and your site better and send her to the primary content on your site – content she is likely to be interested in.

9) Don’t Hide

Show your real address on a map so people can see you exist.

On the Internet anyone can be anonymous. Don’t be. Displaying your real address tells the visitor you have nothing to hide. Furthermore, if the visitor knows the place, you’ve got something in common too.

If you live in a more obscure place and cater to an international audience, then consider showing your address on a map. Actually showing your address on a map makes an otherwise unrecognizable address seem more trustworthy, as the user can literally see the place exists.

10) Proofread

Spelling mistakes et al make you seem less professional and typically decrease trustworthiness.

Obvious grammatical and spelling errors on your site will immediately tell the visitor that you aren’t taking his time serious – a bad start for establishing trust.

In our experience, grammatical and spelling errors are more forgivable on informal channels such as your blog, Twitter account, Facebook page, etc – part of the appeal is that the content hasn’t gone through multiple layers of marketing teams, copywriting, proofreading, etc. On your more formal channels and all static pages hiring a proofreader can be a good idea and easily worth the cost.

11) Suggestions?

Do you know other ways to make a site seem more trustworthy at first glance? Then share them in a comment.

Ideas Added by Commenters:

11) Have Authoritative Content (added by Janar).
I would add having a authoritative content. When content looks like you really know what you are talking about (even if you don’t) it seems more trustworthy.

12) Transparency (added by Sara Durning).
If you have a guarantee or accreditation post it globally or central to the task being performed. Let people know that your forms are secure and include a link to the privacy policy.

13) Friendly Error Recovery (added by Sara Durning).
Support error recovery with friendly and helpful messaging. This includes creating a custom 404 page.

14) Customer Testimonials (added by Donna Duncan).
This is probably obvious, but worth stating. I find testimonials helpful; especially if they tell visitors what we were able to do to help solve a problem and how success was measured.

15) Have a Story to Tell (added by Fresh Cargo).
I would like to add that it helps if your business has a story to tell.. something interesting that users can relate to.

16) Be to the point (added by Robbie).
Be to the point about what you want people to know about you & why they are at your site. That’s not to say do it in 25 words or less but at the same time don’t waffle on for a good 25,000.

Janar November 2, 2011 Reply to this comment

I would add having a authoritative content. When content looks like you really know what you are talking about (even if you don’t) it seems more trustworthy.

Christian, Baymard Institute November 2, 2011 Reply to this comment

Thanks for the suggestion Janar.

Sara Durning November 2, 2011 Reply to this comment

Great post. I’d also add Transparency and Friendly Error Recovery to the list. If you have a guarantee or accreditation post it globally or central to the task being performed. Let people know that your forms are secure and include a link to the privacy policy. Support error recovery with friendly and helpful messaging. This includes creating a custom 404 page.

Christian, Baymard Institute November 3, 2011 Reply to this comment

Thanks Sara, I’ve added them both.

TVD November 10, 2011 Reply to this comment

Really excellent article fellas!

Your perspective on humanizing the experience was really refreshing! I like to say, “Start with being a real person.”

Jenny Simonds November 10, 2011 Reply to this comment

“Obvious grammatical and spelling errors on your site will immediately tell the visitor that you aren’t taking his time serious – a bad start for establishing trust.”

I hate to say it, but this site as a whole does suffer from #10. It’s a pity, because otherwise the articles are insightful & thought provoking.

Christian, Baymard Institute November 15, 2011 Reply to this comment

Hi Jenny,

Not having English as a native tongue will result in some grammatical errors. We’ve used external proofreading services for the static pages (sales page and about page) as well as for the usability report.

On the more frequently updated content channels (primarily these articles) you are, however, stuck with our own proofreading.

Kuhinje November 12, 2011 Reply to this comment

Im really grateful for this article! I will try to use every single step you wrote.

Donna Duncan January 13, 2012 Reply to this comment

This is probably obvious, but worth stating. I find testimonials helpful; especially if they tell visitors what we were able to do to help solve a problem and how success was measured.

Christian, Baymard Institute March 22, 2012 Reply to this comment

Thanks for a great suggestion Donna, I’ve added it to the list.
Sorry for the late response.

Fresh Cargo March 12, 2012 Reply to this comment

I would like to add that it helps if your business has a story to tell.. something interesting that users can relate to

As mentioned in a few of the other comments testimonials and product reviews will help considerably too!

Christian, Baymard Institute March 22, 2012 Reply to this comment

Hi, thanks for the suggestion. I’ve added yours to the list as well.

Robbie (Australia) May 1, 2012 Reply to this comment

Be to the point about what you want people to know about you & why they are at your site. That’s not to say do it in 25 words or less but at the same time don’t waffle on for a good 25,000… I’ve been to some sites that just have seemingly endless amounts of text. it’s not inviting, it’s just plain disturbing.

Brook January 29, 2013 Reply to this comment

Did I miss this but I didn’t see anything about having a Norton Seal on your page.

Tellwut April 23, 2013 Reply to this comment

Hi everyone, this is a very interesting article that I recently covered as well. I wanted to know firsthand what really matters to website visitors when considering trustworthiness. Tellwut asked their voters variety of questions on the topic and these are some of the results:
- 63.17% said that they check website reviews before subscribing. Therefore, trustworthiness is considered outside your website as well.
- 48 out of 100 people stated that they usually read the “About Us” section which means that it is important for website visitors to understand better what the company is doing and who stays behind it.
- For the majority of the nearly 1100 people which is 23%, to know the brand prior to visit the website is more important than anything.
To see more about the social behavior online in regards to trustworthiness: http://bit.ly/15zH13F

GRV May 6, 2013 Reply to this comment

All the tips become helpful when the blog or website owner put his 100% to market his/her website or blog to increase their Alexa rank as well as their visitors. I found myself doing some of the tips on this article. However, I never focus on showing my affiliate brands because I thought this would steel my visitors away from my websites.

Hannah H August 20, 2013 Reply to this comment

Advertising- make sure if your page must have advertising, that it is page appropriate. No one wants to see the hottest trends for shoes on when looking at life insurance- and vice versa.
Also it needs to be discreet and tasteful- popups, page relocation and flashing blinking lights are ALWAYS a no!

lakemcdougall June 13, 2014 Reply to this comment

Excellent info, but you missed one very important issue. Is the goal to ‘SEEM’ trustworthy or to ‘BE’ trustworthy? Your title implies these are instructions to only appear trustworthy, while actually not being so, which is scary. Aren’t you really trying to show how to communicate the fact that you TRUSTWORTHY? …and these are the ways to ensure your visitor gets it?

Ajay June 26, 2014 Reply to this comment

This are all in static , any suggestion on building the trustworthy by interactive ?

Joana_JW June 26, 2014 Reply to this comment

I hate websites that are cluttered and unreadable. I completely agree with it has to be aesthetically pleasing. Thanks fir sharing these important points, I think ever website should strive to communication in the best possible way; both in designing and content :)

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