If you’re a business owner in the modern age, you probably know how important having a website is for gaining traction. So, you’ve completed the website design process – great! Nothing else you need to worry about. It’ll run itself. Right? Not exactly.
If your website’s traffic is not converting to leads, you may be scratching your head wondering where exactly you are going wrong. The design is beautiful, your product is great, but nobody is sticking around long enough to see for themselves. This may be a good time to evaluate one of the most underrated, but very important parts of a website: its credibility. Understanding credibility will be a huge step in your website improvement.
What is website credibility?
Essentially, to visitors, website credibility is a reflection of its trustworthiness. Nowadays, a company’s website may be the first contact someone ever has with the business or product. That’s a big responsibility, and must be treated as such. The fact of the matter is that no one wants to conduct business with a site they don’t find trustworthy. But what makes a website seem untrustworthy to visitors? Unintuitive design, outdated information/broken links, errors in copy, and too many ads are just a few examples of what would make someone want to navigate away.
According to a Stanford study based on three years of research and over 4500 participants, there are ten guidelines that can help build a site’s credibility. In summary, these guidelines can fall under three categories: design, verifiable expertise, utility.
An unsurprising highlight of the Stanford study is that many people tend to judge a website solely by design. Not all sites have to look the same, but the design should reflect the purpose of the site and the goals of the business. It may make sense for some companies to have a more simple website design, if it lines up with their branding. Bad website design isn’t just one or two poor choices, and it’s easy to spot when you come across it.
Organization is also an important element of web design. Contact information should be easy to find and include many forms of reaching you. Phone number, address, and email are all musts. People like to know there’s a legitimate organization behind what they’re being presented, which is another reason that information is important to include and easy to find. Users trust websites that allow them to easily contact the people behind them.
We know ads help site revenue, but a lot of poorly designed websites just dump ads wherever. No matter how often they come across ads, customers will always get annoyed by an influx of them.
If any parts of your site are presenting information, it’s a good idea to have citations to back up that material. You may find not a lot of people are actually verifying the information, but it gives them peace of mind just to have it included. This will gain people’s confidence in what you’re conveying. Just make sure any links you are providing are sourced from legitimate, trustworthy websites.
Another way to prove your expertise is to spotlight the experts in your company. If you’re a good company, you will have employees (with credentials) that have authority on certain subjects. People turn to experts for answers, and put their trust in them. This also works if you’re affiliated with a proven credible organization in any way as well. You could include an easy-to-find section of your site reserved for this purpose, so customers are always one click away from peace of mind.
Your website should be easy for anyone to use. You can make a unique, innovative, professional site without going so over the top that the everyday internet user cannot figure out how to navigate through. Basically, show off your skills without too bluntly seeming like you’re showing off. There’s a lot of creative website design that is also intuitive, if you know what you’re doing.
The copy of your website is an important part of its utility as well. Every piece of text being presented must have a purpose for being there. Users shouldn’t have to skim through paragraphs of copy just to find a simple answer for something they’re wondering. You can improve your website copy by keeping it short and sweet. Nobody’s there to read a book. Make sure everything is spelled correctly, and is as up to date as possible. All it takes is one error for a customer to be immediately turned off to even considering doing business there. Copy should be useful, but it should also reflect the branding/brand voice. Users should feel like they’re navigating through a single, consistent world. They can quickly pick up on disjointed voices.
Boosting your website’s credibility
If you have a lot on your plate running a business, you probably don’t want to worry about web design on top of everything else. This is probably the time to hire someone to do it for you. Why hire a website designer? Well, they are well versed in all this information, and know how design converts to leads. They will know how to avoid the top website design mistakes, and make it so you don’t have to worry about website design & development on top of everything else.