Trust is incredibly difficult to gain, but easier than ever to lose. Make sure your website inspires trust in its users.

New cybercrime, fraud, and scam alerts make global headlines every week. Whether it’s a multi-million-dollar ransomware attack or some new cryptocurrency scheme, people have a lot to worry about when using the Internet. 

Trust is at an all-time low.

This is bad for public institutions, governments, and businesses alike. It also presents unique challenges to web designers and developers who need to build trust with increasingly suspicious website visitors. 

Trust is the foundation of any relationship, and your website’s relationship with its visitors is no different.

Anyone building or designing a website has to prepare for visitors to scrutinize every detail, looking for signs of deception. This is especially true for e-commerce websites that plan on bringing visitors in using paid advertisements. You’ll have to earn visitors’ trust before they convert and become customers.

Trust Badges Aren’t Enough

In the past, website designers incorporated third-party logos and seals of approval that demonstrated their website’s trustworthiness. Since the very beginning of the public Internet, a wide variety of companies offering trust-related website services have popped up and fallen out of use.

While trust badges do have a positive overall effect on website conversion rates, they can’t do all the work for you. Too many websites have abused trust badges – they don’t mean much anymore, and web users know it.

Take a quick look at some of the most common fraudulent uses of trust badges and you’ll find plenty of examples to choose from. Some of the biggest trust badge mistakes include:

  • Displaying trust badges you don’t have permission to use.
  • Using trust badges that don’t require any verification to use.
  • Neglecting to link trust badges to the badge provider’s website.
  • Using trust badges that website visitors aren’t familiar with.
  • Displaying outdated or low-quality, low-resolution trust badges.
  • Cramming too many trust badges onto a crowded website, and more.

There is nothing inherently wrong with trust badges themselves. We use them and we believe in them because the data shows they work. But truly building trust with website visitors takes more than a pretty badge.

Trust Signals Website Visitors are Really Looking For

In order to really maximize the level of trust between your website and its visitors, spend time updating some of the most important indicators of trust that website visitors look for:

  1. A Clean, Modern, Industry-specific Design

Your website should appeal to the expectations of your target audience. Those expectations may be aesthetic, practical, or both. If you deviate too much from the established norm, you risk alienating visitors who may otherwise become customers.

It’s important for designers to realize that website visitors will compare competing websites against one another, even if they don’t realize it. Color schemes, navigation menus, and website structuring systems are things that most people take for granted when browsing a website – until they come across one that works differently.

Websites don’t need to be extravagantly artistic, but they should follow general aesthetic and usability principles. A website should show that its owner cares about its appearance, and encourage users to interact further.

  1. Mobile-friendly Optimization

One of the easiest ways to lose a visitor’s trust is neglecting to optimize your website for mobile. Even if most of your traffic comes from desktop computers, you may have leads who bookmark your website on a desktop browser, then check it out later from their mobile phone or tablet. If they don’t like what they see on their mobile device, they may never come back again.

Six out of ten online searches come from mobile devices. If your website isn’t easily navigable on mobile, it sends a bad signal about your trustworthiness as a business. It tells potential customers that you’re not able to accommodate modern browsing tools. Why should they trust you to handle their sensitive personal data or credit card information?

  1. Highly Visible Contact Information

You can’t build trust without exposing your identity to people. Nobody will trust an anonymous website builder who doesn’t tell them who they are or where they are from. Every website should have clear, highly visible data about the identity of its owner.

In some territories like the European Union, this is actually a legal requirement. All commercial websites and social media pages published in German-speaking countries must include an Impressum that tells visitors who owns it.

This is not a bad model to emulate. The more identifiable business data you can include on your website, the more trustworthy it is. Consider adding a business phone number, physical address, and even personal social media links to websites in order to cultivate that sense of personal accountability in visitors.

  1. Reviews and Testimonials

Review content has always played a powerful role in influencing people to trust websites and web-based services. Website visitors who see real testimonials from past customers are far more likely to move forward through the sales funnel. Websites that clearly display reviews and testimonials have higher conversion rates than those that don’t.

For business websites that sell more advanced products and services, comprehensive case studies can achieve the same result. Case studies show every step the company takes to solve customers’ problems and deliver value, illustrating the company’s trustworthiness implicitly as a result.

  1. Up-to-date Content

One of the most common ways websites lose visitors’ trust is by exposing them to outdated content. If a visitor clicks onto your website and sees that the blog they want to read was published in 2015 and has never been updated since then, they will immediately click back to Google and find a more recent post.

Updating your blog posts and landing pages is absolutely critical to maintaining trust. Companies that take some time out of the year to review their best-performing pages will regularly update those pages and improve their conversion rates even further.

Bonus tip: Update your website’s copyright date located in the footer of every page as well. Your page should reflect the current year and tell visitors that you are proactive about updating your content. Nobody will trust a website with a copyright date several years obsolete.

Build Trust with Users the Right Way

Whether you are a website designer or a website owner, establishing trust with website visitors is critical to your business’ success. Web agencies that know how to create web experiences that inspire trust in people are better suited to capitalize on today’s digital environment than those that don’t. Make trust the central point of your relationship with your website visitors.