Skip to content
Home » How Your Website Influences Trust, Which Influences Success

How Your Website Influences Trust, Which Influences Success

    A website’s design has a big impact on trust – and therefore its success or failure. The widely cited statistic is that 94% of people say they will leave a website if the design does not inspire trust.

    In this context, a poorly designed website sends a subliminal signal that something is wrong. On a conscious level, people associate poor design with poor quality, which is a reflection of your organisation, or with spam and cyber crime.

    One of the most challenging tasks for web designers is taking a fully featured desktop design and “shrinking” it into a design that is effective on a smartphone. Yet that’s where a large part of the problem exists – if you regard it as “shrinking” the design, you are going to slip up. It’s strategically wiser to think of it as “distilling the essence” of your desktop design so that it works on a phone.

    Aligned to this is the pitfall of opting for the easy approach; taking the desktop view elements and just stacking them one element after the other. That’s lazy design. You end up with large, unnecessary images. Even worse, it buries critical information that might be easy to find on desktop but is a nightmare on your mobile phone.

    A Simple Example

    For example, maps are normally found at the bottom of a website when it is designed for desktop. But people who come to your website via mobile may be in Rundle Mall and they want to find your location without endless scrolling. Giving them a quick link and a clickable phone number at the top of a phone’s small screen makes for a great user experience.

    A More Complex Example

    More sophisticated organisations will want to work with the knowledge that “63% of smartphone users are more likely to purchase from companies whose mobile sites or apps offer them relevant recommendations on products they may be interested in”. (Google)

    We have two observations on that statistic:

    1. Creating a website that helps people choose is not overly difficult in a technical sense. The difficulty lies in working out user personas, linking them to certain products or services in your range and then creating a user journey.  (When we talk about products or services, this definition is very broad. For example, the user might be a parent looking at a school website and wanting information on certain “services”, such as sport, International Baccalaureate or a boarding school.)
    2. A user experience (UX) expertcan guide you on the correct pathways. However, it takes an above-average web designer to be able to interpret this pathway and translate it into a functional design on a small screen.

    Responsiveness Has A Dual Meaning

    For most people, responsiveness is a term used by web designers and developers to describe how a site alters to suit the device on which it is being viewed. It adapts nicely with appropriate fonts, icons and layouts that are easy to read on smaller smartphones and tablets.

    However, the Boylen way of thinking is that responsiveness also describes the way your organisation interacts with website visitors.

    We’re not talking about responding to messages or forms. What we mean is “predictive responsiveness”. This is where you use historical analytics to see patterns of behaviour and then design your website to provide the information before the user has to ask.

    An example of this is knowing that a person who buys a mop and bucket is likely to need floor detergent. Detergents should therefore be positioned as a recommendation or option at the point of purchase. Using a real example, Harley Davidson increased its sales leads by a responding to what it knew about its potential customers. By personalising information to suit various customer segments, it increased its success rate by a staggering 2930%.

    The SEO Imperative 

    Google has elevated mobile responsiveness to be one of its main search engine ranking factors. This makes a lot of sense. Google is in effect making a recommendation to you and it knows that nobody wants to waste time browsing an unreadable website on a mobile device.

    In order for a website to be considered 100% responsive, it needs to have three key features.

    1. Flexible grid is a process used by developers where web elements essentially change the layout depending on the size of the browser’s viewport.
    2. Flexible images that move and scale seamlessly together with the flexible grid. Using traditional width and height adjustments in large images to adjust when more space is needed for text content on smaller browsing devices is not a good practice anymore because it usually causes slower page load times.
    3. Media queries that allow the creation of multiple layouts using the same HTML code by selectively serving stylesheets based on the user’s browser and screen size.

    Half-time Summary

    The lesson is simple: make sure your website offers a brilliant experience on mobile. Here’s a good tool to start with:

    Now read on … or if something has already triggered your attention, either call us on (08) 8233 9433 or click on the link below: Contact Us

    Trust Signals

    Trust Signals are a combination of elements that influence individuals to trust your site, as well as providing search engines with evidence of your good reputation.

    Think of them as them like body language; the non-verbal communication signals when two humans interact. A person will look for certain cues to see if the other person is trustworthy, passive/aggressive, happy/sad etc.

    To illustrate how important this factor is, you only have to look to Google, which has developed a TrustRank. If Google says something is important online, it pays to listen or your search results will suffer.

    To quote Google: “There’s over 200 different signals that we use in our ranking. But you can kind of break them down into this notion of trust … We use several words – reputation, trust, authority.”

    Example Of Trust Signals

    There are many “trust signals” you can employ. Here are some that we at Boylen, as an Adelaide design agency, have on our website:

    • Secure Sockets Layer (SSL): a security certificate lets you know our website takes security seriously
    • The names and logos of some of our largest clients (eg. SA Film Corp, Minelab and Seeley International).
    • In our content, we promote the fact that we have been in business 29 years (which we hope conveys reliability).
    • Staff photos
    • About Us page
    • Privacy policy
    • Terms and conditions online
    • Good quality design. The better the experience, the higher the trust. The worse the design, the poorer the experience and the more frustrating the experience. (As a side note, Simple web design can be incredibly powerful in creating trust. The ability to take the complicated down to the simple, such as Apple does, it often the work of a genius designer.)
    • Responsive: reformats seamlessly to suit the size device a visitor is using
    • Contact Information
    • Links: we limit our outbound (external) links to high quality organisations and experts in their field.  These are high value links that you can trust if you click them – and Google also sees the quality of our links and rewards us for this behaviour.
    • Inbound links. Also, of great value is gaining links to your website from highly respected organisations. For example, here is in Adelaide it might be a link from one of the universities, the State Government or a professional association.
    • Social proofing (see separate section below).

    Testimonials And Social Proofing

    Social proofing provides evidence that you are reliable and that you sell quality products or services.

    Yes, some people claim they distrust testimonials and are immune to their influence. However, the reality is that the overwhelming majority of visitors to your website are influenced in a positive way. Furthermore, the more authentic your testimonials are (including a full name, company name, title and suburb), the greater the trust.

    Several years ago we ran a marketing workshop and were surprised by the power of testimonials. We thought they might have waned as consumers become more savvy. Apparently not – and this is supported by statistics that show close to 90% of customers trust online reviews.

    Other Trust Factors

    • Logos of partners – the more respected or well-known, the better.
    • Statistic panels (eg. number of customers, employment statistics for tertiary graduates, Year 12 scores (ATAR), downloads counters, years in business and so on.
    • Media. If you’ve received positive media coverage recently, make sure you feature this. News websites such as The Advertiser have very high trust rankings from Google, despite what people say about news outlets.
    • Logos from industry associations. This shows that you are qualified to a high enough degree to be accepted into an association or institute. It also demonstrates that you care about the standards in your sector.
    • Ratings from review sites. Independent feedback from independent review websites such as Yelp and Trip Advisor are highly valued. The more stars you can attract, the higher your visual trust ranking will be. And the more great comments you receive from satisfied customers, the greater the evidence that you provide something excellent and are a trustworthy business.

    Ecommerce Trust Signals

    For an ecommerce site, the importance of trust is amplified. Here’s what you need to know:

    • Security logos are very important. It might be McAfee Secure, GeoTrust, Verified by Visa, MasterCard SecureCode, VeriSign Secure, Norton Secured or similar.
    • Positioning is important. Place your most potent trust signal next to the most critical action you want people to take (eg. Buy Now, Sign Up, Register For A Tour etc). So for the security logos mentioned in the point above, make sure they are visible at the point of purchase.
    • Most online customers also want to know the details of your delivery system and your returns policy. For example, if you don’t have a returns policy, this will raise doubt in the mind of a potential purchaser.
    • Even more critical – although less often read – are the security policies that impact the data you provide. For example, if a person is going to provide you with their full name, date of birth, address and credit card numbers, they need to know how you protect their information from an attack.
    • You might also add in employee documents and certifications. For example, Working With Children clearances, Australian Defence Force accreditation, police clearances and the like.

    Social Media Presence

    How you handle your social presence is also critically important to boosting your trust ranking. The search engines will reward you if your social media is active – but people will naturally think twice about a company that only posts every six months. The more you post high quality content, the more chances you have of engendering trust.

    Spammy Activities: There is no doubt that having a good number of “likes” and “followers” can be a trust signal. Unfortunately, some companies buy these to try to boost our rankings. These are known as black hat techniques and are frowned upon by the search engines, for obvious reasons.

    Engage in duplicitous activities at your peril.

    Be Genuine: Trust Is Real, Not fake

    If you read between the lines of this article, the deep lesson is that you can’t fake it.

    Boylen argues you need to be a sincere, ethical and honest organisation. That’s the foundation of building trust. Only after you have these traits in place can you broadcast your trustworthiness to a broader community, using the trust techniques outlined above.

    There’s a lot of psychology in this. By promoting yourself from a position of authenticity, it is more likely that users will see a link with your company. This is the perception of similarity, according to David DeSteno, professor of psychology at Northeastern University and the author of The Truth About Trust.

    You only have to look at the flip side to realise the importance os building up real trust and respect. For example, when an employee from Uber started posting about discrimination within the company and employees went on strike over working conditions, all the advertising in the world couldn’t help Uber regain trust. It finally turned the corner but actually adopting more trustworthy policies.

    What Boylen Could Do Better

    Taking an unbiased view, the Boylen website ticks a lot of the boxes when it comes to trust signals.

    Where could we improve? We know that our social media accounts beyond Facebook could be more active. We run some major social media accounts for clients and we know what works; now we have to “get it done” for ourselves.

    Charities: our team could promote the South Australian charities we support but we prefer to keep this low key because we don’t do it for marketing reasons. Nor do we want to be perceived that way. However, you should consider this avenue because it may be a good option for your organisation.

    Speed is something of an issue for our website. We are using high level hosting but the image and graphics rich nature of our website hurts its speed. We’re now tackling it on a weekly basis. Making changes, measuring, reviewing and making more changes. We are now well into Google’s “green zone” for this but we want to be lightning fast. (Reminder: slow loading sites frustrate people and it reduces their trust in you.)

    Simple Recommendation

    This blog contains many tangible actions you can take to improve your trust quotient. If you conduct a simple gap test, you will see where you can get started or improve.

    Those gaps are opportunities! So the best advice we can give you is: Just. Get. Started.

    The fact that you have read to the end of this suggests that you are serious about improving your trust ranking with the search engines and with your target audiences.

    If you would like to discuss anything in this article or to discuss how Boylen could assist you, please click on the “Contact” link at the bottom of the page.

    (Background: Boylen’s Adelaide-based web designers, developers and marketing strategists focus on bold designs, eCommerce, user experience and search marketing. We provided a wide range of online services.)

    Submit a Ticket