Credibility. All good websites have it, and those that don’t flounder into the endless sea of the deep web and unlisted pages, never to be listed by search engines or have traffic directed their way. As such, it’s not a surprise that many websites place substantial value on their credibility.
In today’s day and age, it is all too easy to find a service akin to the one you are offering with a competitor. Most customers will not bother with wading through a sea of confused and muddled site aspects to find what they want. Without easily verifiable information presented in a clear and concise manner, a potential customer will leave and seek the solution to their needs elsewhere. Today I’ll be listing five glaring traps that site-starters often fall into and simple ways to avoid them.
Too Many Advertisements
Many sites are all too happy to let inappropriate ads display on their website only because they pay well, and many advertisements are intrusive, cluttered, and annoying to the reader experience. On top of that, many ads are media heavy with video, sounds, and java scripts added in- slowing your pages load and performance times considerably.
If it does not actively drive readers away, it may lead them – no, force them – to install an adblocker to negate your ads from displaying. While this is great for them, this is not so great for you – any ads blocked by an adblocker will not register as viewed and will not generate revenue, and your sites local ads for products and services will likewise lose effectiveness.
Credible websites focus on the quality of ads, rather than the quantity. Do the ads enhance your viewer's experience? Are they relevant to your target readers’ needs? Are they designed to help you attract more attention or give your services more value? If the answer is no- let them go.
Failure to Verify and Back-up Claims
Another error that tosses a site into the abyss is a failure to provide access to things that verify their claims and business promises. Verification and authenticity come in many forms. Customer reviews and social media exposure. Professional coverage from media such as magazines and experts in the niche. Guest blogs on trusted sites. Authorship of an essential and informative book.
A customer is far more likely to buy something that is widely stated to work and work well than they are to buy a product that has a ‘buy now’ button and no sources to back up that it does as it claims. Such pages look daunting and seem incredibly risky and suspicious to the average consumer.
The customer’s feeling of safety and security should be paramount, and they should see that you consider it such. You can help this by providing a customer satisfaction guarantee, which states that if a particular condition is met (usually a return within a time frame, or if the product or service is not up to par or defective) a customer can request a full refund. Less potential risk increases the likelihood of a successful sale.
Should they notice that your site is poorly written, it is likely that they will write your website off as unprofessional (or worse- a scam!) and find a more reliable source. While grammatical correctness seems like a no-brainer, many sites still fail to utilize it and suffer financially as a result.
An excellent way to ensure grammatical correctness is to hire freelancers to perform a content-based site audit. An additional bonus to this is a good writer can point out weak content, SEO improvements, and other quality tips.
Hidden Information and Information Scavenger Hunts
Have you ever spent twenty minutes just trying to find a way to contact customer support? Or have you rummaged through twelve pages of very unhelpful Help articles to find the answer to a simple question? How about signed up for a “free” trial that came with a hefty surprise cancellation fee because of a little clause was hidden in a lengthy TOS agreement?
Did you enjoy that experience? No? Neither will your customers.
Everything about your company should be easily accessible, from customer support and contact information to policies and payments. Your product should also be accurately and thoroughly defined on the page it is purchased from.
No Tricks and Loopholes. Disclaimers or agreements to fees should be readily noticeable, not in tiny text at the bottom of the screen or hidden discreetly in the Terms of Service. All costs should be listed and clearly explained, in detail, up front – should your initial and advertised prices be misleading, your reputation and business will suffer. In some cases, you may be liable for legal actions and penalties as well.
You should always make sure that your policies and Terms of Service are straightforward to access and are freely offered to a customer before they purchase your service or product. You should likewise have precise information on how to contact you, including your business hours, methods of contact, and other company information.
Hard to Use
Make your site or service too hard to navigate, and you will lose potential customers who would rather use their time for more constructive purposes then muddling through your website. They will seek out your competitors instead.
Freelance beta-testers and site auditors are especially useful for testing your website design. They can target the problem, and you can adjust and polish your site accordingly.
The key to successful and credible website design is simplicity. Never assume your customer will ‘figure it out.” Make everything extremely easy and up-front to navigate. Make sure there are no complicated hidden menus or complicated link sequences to get where you want to go – almost every public page should be one or two clicks or an in-site search away at any given moment.
A universal footer with contact information and frequently used links is an effective way to enhance your site’s usability – links to forums and products along the top is uniform as well. Try to keep ads from cluttering up and disturbing your text. Keep text well written and easy to read.
These simple things, though very basic, are some of the most important things to keep in mind when designing a page or site for credibility. Aspects such as ads, simplicity, accessibility, security, and validation are often dealmakers or deal breakers.
The most priceless feeling a visitor can have is feeling as if your site was made to accommodate and value them. Value the customer, understand them, and they may appreciate your services as well. Then you can engage in fruitful and profitable exchanges together for years to come, and you’ll enjoy lower bounce-rates and greater site interaction as well.
Note from the Writer: I want to extend a hearty thank you to Michael J. for his extensive notes and insights as a Post-Millennial consumer. His input about how these factors weigh into his trust factor for a company website gave me an excellent opportunity to post this from the eyes of someone who does not write for businesses on a regular basis.