The influence of the internet has spread to all aspects of our lives. From buying to selling to socialising & making new connections, it has become an integral part of our everyday affairs.
But this rise in influence has also increased the risk of online fraud and malice. This has made the users extra cautious whenever they are surfing. They constantly look for reassurances in the websites they visit that generate trust among them.
While the websites of big names have plenty of credibilities already, the less renowned ones have to develop & maintain credible websites as it is usually the first point of contact with the customers. These websites should exhibit a safe interactive environment for the user as well as displaying the company’s capability to meet the consumer’s needs.
In order to display both these characteristics in their website, one needs to focus on these four types of credibility:
- Surface: Credibility based on simple inspection of the website. This includes the website’s design, content, look etc.
- Earned: Credibility based on positive experiences of the visitors with your website. This includes visitors finding the website credible & valuable. For example helpful information, little to no errors, great customer service etc.
- Reputed: Credibility based on the reference of a 3rd party. For example, references from family, friends or unbiased reviewers etc.
- Presumed: Credibility based on general assumptions. Sometimes, we believe in a website based on conventional wisdom. For example, a website having “.org” in its domain name; a brand they have heard of is more credible than unknown, etc.
While one may want to focus on one type of credibility more than the others, you can’t completely ignore the others. For instance, while focusing on your website’s design may improve its credibility, ignoring the quality of your content may sabotage your website’s credibility.
Here are a few factors influencing each of these credibilities that improve the credibility of a website:
- Website Design
This refers to the look of the website. For example, the visual design of the website, the quality of pictures used, the colour schemes used (people tend to prefer cleaning companies that use green or a lot of white space in their design as it depicts natural, fresh & clean).
Multiple studies testify to the influence a website’s design has on its credibility.
A study at Stanford’s Technology Lab revealed website design as the number one criteria for credibility for 46% of the people. Another study by One Poll found that 70% of the people won’t buy from a badly designed website.
One cannot underestimate the importance of the website’s design in determining its credibility of the website.
This refers to the quality of content displayed on your website. The quality of the content is determined by various aspects like:
Relevance of the content to the consumer. The content should communicate useful information to the user. New content should be updated regularly. This indicates an active website which adds to its credibility.
The size of the fonts. For example, larger fonts improve reading & comprehension.
Use of right grammar and not making grammatical mistakes regularly.
Use of jargon: Limiting the use of jargon makes the content easy to read for the consumer. Jargons are only good while writing for a niche community.
- Ease of use
Users like websites that are easy to use. This can be described as the amount of time & effort a user takes to find what they are looking for. Research conducted by Hubspot.com revealed that 76% of users ranked ease of finding the information at the top.
A website can be made user-friendly through various factors like good website navigation, good on-site search option, no dead links or technical problems on the website etc.
- Information about the Company
This involves providing easy access to the company’s contact information. Easy access to information like phone number, address, email, social media profiles, live chat etc. add credibility to the website. It gives visitors confidence that they can contact you if they run into trouble.
The company can also add its staff details to the website. It adds a personal touch to your website & gives prospective customers an idea of who they are dealing with.
- No unnecessary requirements
Websites that force you to register or give your personal information before allowing you to go through the content immediately lose credibility. A customer will only be comfortable giving his details if he trusts the website. A website should first gain the trust of the user before asking them for any details.
- Citing your sources
Citing your sources increases your website’s trustworthiness. Providing consumers with evidence to back your claims adds a ton of credibility. This can be highly rewarding if done on a consistent basis.
- Minimal Advertising
People don’t like ads. They are everywhere because interruptions are not appreciated. It’s safe to say that displaying an array of ads on your website is not a good idea. One should keep the advertising on their website to a minimum as it makes the website look more genuine.
FAQs address the most common questions that arise in the visitors’ minds. A website should contain an easily accessible FAQ section addressing the right questions. This will provide clarity to the visitors while emphasizing the transparent, honest & helpful nature of the company. Thus, adding a lot of credibility to the website.
Testimonials tell your visitors what it is like to be your customer.
An effective testimonial includes a challenge the customer faced before he used the services & how you helped him overcome his challenges.
When displaying a testimonial on your website, make sure to add details like the full name, occupation, employer etc of your customers. Adding a photo or video of the customer can make the testimonial more effective. One can also add case studies.
A downside to this is that they are one-sided, but they still add credibility to your website.
Reviews describe a user’s experience. The fact that they are beyond the reviewee’s control possibly makes them the most impactful credibility factor.
Several studies prove the impact of reviews on a website’s credibility. A study by Bright Local revealed that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Furthermore, 72% of consumers suggested that positive reviews increase their trust in a business.
Positive reviews from your customers can go a long way in generating trust in your customers. This also includes having a professional influencer add a review. The only hindrance is that even a single negative review on your website can have an adverse impact on your website’s credibility.
- Customer Validation
This refers to displaying your numbers on the website. Displaying things like your client list, the number of clients you have availed your services to in past & present etc. adds credibility to your website.
- Paid Advertising
Advertising can make your target audience familiar to you. Evidently, a person will have more trust in an entity he has heard previously than an alien one.
Paid advertising can be in the form of Google Ads, YouTube Ads or an influencer promoting your website.
- Official Sounding Domain
This includes having a genuine domain name for the website. The domain name should be concise & easy to remember. Long, gimmicky domain names may not bode well with the visitors.
No website gains credibility overnight. It takes time to build credibility which demands consistency. While anyone can learn about the factors influencing a website’s credibility, consistent execution on those factors is the most important. So, one needs to address all these factors while providing real value to their users, on a consistent basis to build credibility over time.
Consistently delivering quality creates a good reputation which automatically translates to an escalation in a website’s credibility. It is, therefore, safe to say that consistency is the key to success.