Obed RichmanObed is a web designer at digital agency Nublue. He’s experienced in digital design, print, photography and HTML/CSS coding, translating clients’ ideas into conversion-winning results. With extensive industry knowledge of current web design trends, and the hardware and software solutions needed to execute them, Obed specialises in design which brings ideas to life – and bridges that crucial gap between clients’ wishes and their end users’ expectations.
Building trust can boost your website’s conversions. There’s so much data to prove it that you have to wonder if we even need the data to prove it. Some things are just intuitive to all of us – like knowing how to get other people to like and trust us, for our mutual benefit.
Ultimately, websites are designed for human beings. Trust is the basic currency of human beings. Beyond the metrics and the KPIs, there are some aspects of web design that can be relied on to increase trust, with or without the research to support them.
1. Use photos of your team
Every business has people at its heart, and audiences often respond more positively when they can see the faces behind the brand. There’s no shortage of research out there to prove that humanising1 your online content with photos of people increases trust and conversion rates – but it’s something each of us knows instinctively.
We’re social creatures, and we’re hardwired to connect with other people. Even on the phone we instinctively have trust for a human voice, and no trust for an automated message. There’s simply no one there to trust. When there’s no sign of a human on the other end, be it a phonecall or a website, we can’t form a connection and we can’t form trust.
In the words of Seth Godin, “the internet is a connection engine”. Increase the human aspects of your website, and you increase your chances of fostering trust among your audience.
2. Reflect your audience accurately in your design
Great web design boils down to great usability. Your site’s design has to make it clear that you know and understand the people who are using your website – and what problems they’re trying to solve.
The more you know about your audience and what they want, the more closely you’ll be able to meet their needs in your site’s look, feel and functionality. How long are they prepared to spend browsing your site? Do they need something for themselves, or someone else? Why do they want what they want, and how much are they typically prepared to pay for it? Does your site match their expectations, or just your own?
These are questions that could be answered through surveys and analytics… but they can also be answered simply by emailing around your own team to ask about their experiences, reading your customer reviews, and gradually implementing change.
3. Make the most of your reviews
You already know the power of consumer reviews to influence what you buy. It’s the reason you’ve got more time for Which? and Amazon star ratings than you do for the sales copy of the vendors you browse. We all have more time and trust for the opinions of people with no vested interest in the things we’d like to buy.
It’s important to display your customer reviews where your visitors will benefit most from them. But it’s also important to think about using the power of trusted independent brands in how you present those reviews.
Client testimonials are informative and establish trust, but there’s still the assumption that they’ve been chosen carefully to show your brand in the best light. But when visitors see the logo of an independent reviews site via a plugin on your own homepage, the authenticity and trust you want to establish has come from a powerful third-party source – where the negative reviews can’t be hidden away.
4. Establish invisible trust
Which part of every website is invisible and immaterial, but makes all the difference in whether a visitor will use it and trust it, or leave the site altogether? Load speed is an often-overlooked factor of great web design. Even the most beautiful websites will see depressingly low traffic if they take forever to load.
The time it takes for your site to load and navigate is a critical, unseen aspect of its design. A sluggish website can erode our trust rapidly and even raise the suspicion of viruses being present, prompting us to click back to Google within a matter of seconds for a more promising, energetic site in the search results.
High-performance web hosting is a major factor in improving your site’s load speed, but you can also optimise your site’s design for a swifter, slicker user experience. Make your web pages smaller (and therefore lighter) by split-testing new designs and removing lower-value sections; make sure you’re using the optimal file types for your images, which are ‘saved for web’; break up large, heavy pages into multiple smaller ones; make your navigation as clear as possible; and get an expert developer to check if your site’s code could be cleaner and more refined… or even rewritten.
5. …And increase the visible kind too
A key component of trust is the feeling of being safe and secure, and online that often comes down to the use of a solid SSL certificate on your payment pages, which encrypts customers’ financial data when they make a purchase.
However, not all SSLs are created equal. Higher-end SSLs make more use of visible trust markers on your website, such as eye-catching seals and the ability to turn your user’s browser address bar a nice, safe-looking green.
Your website is likely to be the first place customers will look before contacting or visiting you, or making a purchase. For this reason, it’s important to balance the information displayed on each page to avoid overloading your visitors. A well-designed FAQ page can help to solve this – a page which addresses real questions and concerns from your previous customers, with detailed answers. A great FAQ page addresses customers’ needs, and helps to create trust.
'Establishing trust in ecommerce is also about showing your customers what they’re about to buy from you as fully and accurately as possible, and providing clear proof that you’re a legitimate vendor. As well as making your trusted product/partner brands clear to see on your homepage and product pages, you could also look to refine your product pages’ design – representing products as accurately as possible with large photos, detailed information, video overviews, 360-degree rotating product images and downloadable PDF guides.
Along with obvious trust markers like testimonials and independent consumer reviews, winning your visitors’ trust can sometimes be as straightforward as ensuring your site’s design, hosting, features and functionality are up to date with the competition – or even ahead of them.