Monday, August 12, 2013

3 ways to build visitor trust on the web

Trust is a tricky thing.  You can't touch it and it isn't easy to quantify, but without it, your website is going nowhere.  Every interaction on the web is an exchange of value.  Whether your asking for someone's attention, email address, or credit card, trust is required for the transaction to be completed.

There are 2 main categories that most businesses fall into.  Those that are well known and those that are not.  For business that are well known, trust is easier.  For the rest of us, it is imperative that we know how to build visitor trust on the web.

Just like with all decisions, when we are not sure of the correct answer we look for clues and shortcuts.

Anyone can tell you that design, testimonials, and security badges increase trust, but how?

A trustworthy design is 2 things: consistent and happy.

A consistent design just means that there is an obvious correlation to the company and what your visitors were expecting to find.  Can you imagine going to the Coca-Cola website and the main color being green?  There are loads of little details that go into a "great" web design, but the most important one is consistency.  If you are working with a template, use colors, fonts, and layouts that will be consistent with your brand and advertising.

What is a happy design?  You can think of a "happy design" as a sort of Feng Shui.  We naturally gravitate toward and trust happy people (as opposed to angry people).  And so it stands to reason we would trust a happy design over an angry one.  This is why it is so hard to create a high converting site with a black background.  Also, a neutral site is just that, neutral.  To make your site design happy, give people places to rest, and use colors and pictures that evoke happy thoughts.

Testimonials are just 1 form of social proof.  You can use Facebook likes, Tweets, case studies, or third party reviews as social proof too.  Five Guys is a master of social proof.

If you see a restaurant with a line out into the parking lot you automatically assume it's great.  We humans have succeeded in advancing to our present state by relying on the experience and advice of others.  No single person has the time to experience everything, so when we are unfamiliar with a solution, we look for the advice of others.

Security badges are a form of borrowed trust.  Your visitors may not know who you are but they know the security badge.  Security badges work best for adding trust during the purchase process when you are collecting sensitive information.  If you want to build trust in other parts of your funnel, you can use the logos from high profile customers or partners.  

Borrowed trust works for the same reason your mom never wanted you hanging out with the bad kids.  You may not have been a bad kid, but when you hang out with them, others will see you as a delinquent.  If you pick high profile customers that you are proud to be associated with, borrowed trust will work in your favor.

The bonus solution here is a gimme: Honesty.  If you want people to trust you, you have to be honest, but what isn't so obvious is that you have to go out of your way to honest.  This means clearly detailing your purchase and return policies.  Explaining any caveats in your contracts up front and helping your customers navigate potential land mines.  You should even let people know why you need to collect certain types of information on your forms (such as birthdate or email) and what you intend to do with it.

Trust is a tricky thing, but being honest and having a good design goes a long way toward a fruitful relationship with your visitors.  If your conversions still aren't where you want them, consider borrowing some trust from other companies' logos and the testimonials of the masses.

How do you build trust on your website?