When it comes to building your website, it's not only about the site looking good. You want to build trust between you and your potential customer.
Stanford University compiled 10 guidelines to build credibility for your website, which took over 3 years, and involved over 4,500 participants....so you know there is a lot of data to back up this report! These are aspects that you need to consider when building your website:
1. Make it easy to verify the accuracy of the information displayed on your site.
If you have certain facts, or referencing other sources of information, be sure to include links so that visitors have the option to check that data for themselves. Many may choose not to, but having the links show you have done your research, and have nothing to hide. This is perhaps even more important now with the rise of 'alternative facts'.
2. Show that you are a real organisation.
This can be done by displaying your trading address and posting pictures of your office / warehouse. Are you linked to local business organisations? Display their logos.
3. Highlight your expertise.
This can be done by stating employee credentials and experience, affiliations with respected organisations, e.g. Master Builders, Microsoft Specialists, or Trusted Providers, as well as the general content of your site.
4. Show that honest and trustworthy people are associated with your site.
Many companies choose to include team bios that display head shots and some background information, including education, specialist areas, and even hobbies.
5. Make it easy to contact you.
This may sound like a basic concept, but you would be surprised at how many websites have beautifully designed websites, and yet no contact information displayed. If finding your telephone number or email address is too hard, people will simply click off your website and look elsewhere.
6. Have a professional looking website.
Again, may sound like a basic requirement, but not every website designer has a sense of design. Many will carry out your instructions, but not actually think about your target audience and the industry that you operate in. For example, you may be located near the beach, but are beach images appropriate for a financial adviser?
7. Make your website easy to use - and useful!
Can your visitors navigate your website easily to find the information they need to make a decision about doing business with you? What are the important aspects of your business that you need to convey? Your website should have a simple layout that directs visitors to where they need to go, and then encourage them to take the next step, e.g. get in contact. Another important thing to consider - is your website mobile friendly? If not, the display will become distorted, so you lose functionality, and frustrate visitors.
8. Update often.
This is for two reasons. Firstly, if your site has a blog post from over a year ago, does that give your visitor confidence that you are a) still trading, b) interested in online business, c) reviewed your website to check everything is up to date? And secondly, the latest Google algorithms are constantly looking for 'fresh content', which is why you are seeing more and more websites with blog features. For busy companies, it may be a once a month update / newsletter, for others it may be updating new product lines every week.
9. Use restraint with promotional content.
This doesn't mean not to sell your products and services online. Think about those annoying pop up banners and adverts (especially common with 'free' websites). Is this giving your company a professional image? It is more likely to annoy visitors as they either have to continuously click to remove the ads, or wait for the page to load with the ads. If you must have ads on your website, make sure sponsored content is easily distinguishable from your own.
10. Avoid errors.
From broken links, to spelling mistakes and out of date information, having your website contain errors impacts the credibility of your website. Imagine you are recruiting a new sales and marketing person for your company, and you receive an application from a qualified and experienced person. After stating they have great attention to detail, you find several spelling and grammatical errors in their cover letter and CV. Would you still hire them?
Hopefully the above has inspired you to review your website and check that you are following the above guidelines. If you feel that your website could do with a 'refresh' and would like to use a mobile-optimised, easy to use system, get in touch for a free, no-obligation chat about your options. Email Kati at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reference: The Web Credibility Project, Stanford University http://credibility.stanford.edu/guidelines/index.html