As online as in real life, first impressions are critically important. When shoppers walk into a brick-and-mortar store, they immediately begin making judgments based upon what they see and experience. Online visitors use many of the same skills when they visit your website for the first time, making it more important than ever to build your online credibility.
Increasing credibility online mirrors efforts to increase profits – challenging to acquire and so easy to lose if you aren’t careful. Luckily, there are some surefire methods for increasing your online credibility, starting with many website elements that you’ve been overlooking all of this time. Though this list isn’t extensive, you can bet that these 4 tips will start you down a more trustworthy path online.
If you’ve ever wondered how to determine a website’s credibility, then you’ve come to the right place. Each of these 4 tips also includes info on how online visitors behave when evaluating a website. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to better shape your website’s layout and content to meet the positive expectations of your audience:
Tip #1: Improve your Loading Times
Your absolute first priority while working to build your website’s credibility should be improving your website’s page load times. Among a variety of factors, page load times can be one of the largest indicators of whether a visitor stays on a website or jumps ship for a faster source. This impression window lasts mere seconds, so each page needs to load as fast as possible.
At a root level, you can improve your page load times by switching to a more reliable web host. As can be seen on this provider list, there are a variety of affordable hosting options available today with features that support faster load times, such as caching and plug-in optimization. Web administrators with perpetually slow websites should start here if they want to improve their website’s credibility.
Today’s internet users expect warp speed media load times as well, requiring website administrators who want to build trust to double down on how quickly their photos, music, and videos load on the domain. While this can be accomplished through a variety of methods, each method supports the larger belief that your website is modern, well-managed, and trustworthy overall.
Tip #2: Reevaluate your Graphic Design
Back in 1999, most folks were just happy to hold a plot of digital real estate and thought very little of their website’s overall visual appearance. Those days are far behind us now as modern internet users expect a certain level of professionalism in a website’s graphic design. That means it’s time to ditch the clashing color scheme and animated GIFs in order to gain your audience’s trust.
When it comes to choosing a primary background, try to choose a color that is connected to your business and is not harsh visually. Also, be sure to choose a font set and color that are very easy to read on your chosen background (especially on a small scale, such as on a smart phone screen).
If you are inexperienced or lack confidence in your graphic prowess, consider using a website building platform. These platforms help you select appropriate graphic elements that communicate professionalism, allowing you to build credibility with your audience immediately.
Tip #3: Provide a Reliable Communications Channel
When visitors want to know more about your business, they have several means of reaching you through modern communication channels. Websites, phones, social media, and more all serve as a method of getting in contact after making a strong first impression. But all of these methods mean little if your visitors don’t know about them, so you absolutely must include your primary contact channels on your website.
Gone are the days of finding every business in the Yellow Pages. Today, visitors will feel that a business is trustworthy if they provide their contact information on their website proper. Similarly, visitors are more likely to trust a business that maintains a vibrant, communicative social media presence. As such, your business must be prepared to respond to comments and questions across their several digital platforms from the get-go.
Of course, providing a phone number and email alone can go a long way towards building trust as well. However, if you don’t respond to inquiries on either medium in short order, you can expect visitors to leave your business behind in favor of a more responsive competitor. Taken together, accessible communication can be an essential factor for visitors to consider when they are deciding whether to trust your business.
Tip #4: Improve Your Security and Make It Known
Many business websites today process a variety of information, from credit card numbers to sensitive personal information. In light of major hacking instances made against giants like Facebook and Yahoo, many eagle-eyed internet users are very wary about putting their important information on your website unless you can prove that you will protect it.
At a bare minimum, you should ensure that your website is using the latest SSL certificate standards. With these specialized protocols installed, you and your customers can be sure that every sensitive transmission is encrypted from end to end. Also, you should consider implementing a policy for storing customer information (ideally with an expiration date).
Once you’ve improved your security, be sure to publicly display your credible security certificates where all of your visitors will see them. This may include adding badges to your web pages for groups like SiteLock or the Better Business Bureau (assuming you meet the criteria for displaying such badges). No matter how you publicize it, be sure to communicate your commitment to your customers’ security in order to provide them with another reason to trust your business.
The Bottom Line
Credibility means a great deal in the digital marketplace today, so you should commit the time and resources appropriate to improving your business’ credibility whenever possible. If you’re in the process of evaluating how your website visitors could grow to trust you further, consider some of these tips as take your next steps forward.
While it can be challenging to increase credibility for your business’ website, know that all of that hard work pays off when you build a loyal customer base that trusts your business as a whole as a result of a positive first impression online.