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Establishing your trust & credibility

Written by David Kelly on November 12th, 2008.      0 comments

Lets start off now by looking at the first two steps in the visitor persuasion process.  “Do I trust you?”  And … “Do I believe you?”.

In order to successfully persuade your visitors to take action you must first establish your trust and credibility with your visitors.  If your website visitors don’t trust you and believe what you are telling them, they will never buy from you – no matter how amazing your products or services are.

Picture this.  As you are walking along the street a guy walks up to you.  The guy is covered in dirt and grime and is wearing tattered and heavily worn clothing.  He smells of alcohol and has the appearance of a homeless person who is living on the street. The guy introduces himself as Kyle and points to a brand new Bentley Continental parked on the side of the road.  He holds up the car keys and says, “Sir, this magnificent motor vehicle can be yours right here right now for only $1000!  But only if you pay me $1000 cash right here right now.” 

Would you pull out your wallet (or go to the bank) and pay this guy $1000 cash? 

Why not? 

The  Bentley is worth far more than $1000.  This has got to be the deal of a lifetime!

You won’t buy simply because you don’t trust the guy!  You don’t believe that he is telling the truth; in fact he might not even be the owner of the car.

If you don’t establish trust and credibility with your website visitors, you will never persuade them to take action - no matter how good a deal you are offering.

There are many different ways of establishing trust and credibility with your website visitors.  Some are influenced by the way that your website is designed and built and some involve the content that you put on your website. 

Let’s take a look at some of these factors now:

  • Professional Design
    Your website must not look cheap!  First impressions are a vital part of establishing initial trust and credibility with your visitors.  Think about the story of Kyle and the brand new Bentley.  Kyle’s appearance would have greatly affected your perception of him and contributed to your lack of trust in him.
    One of the first impressions a visitor has of your website is the design – the look and the feel.  If your website screams ‘budget’ then it will seriously harm your potential results.
    Make sure your website has a sharp, professional look.  It should “look” like it has been designed and created by a person with professional website design skills.
  • Website Usability
    Visitors need to be able to navigate quickly to where they want to go.  If you confuse your visitors and they get stuck and cannot figure out how to get to your ‘Order’ page, ‘Enquiry’ page or your ‘Checkout’ page then you will lose them.

    The online world is a lot different from the physical world.  It is significantly more competitive and does not have any geographical barriers.  If a customer is not happy with your service in the physical world your competitors are probably 20 minutes drive (or more) away.  In the online world your competitors are only two clicks of the mouse away!

    This is a critical point – visitors must be able to navigate quickly to where ever they want to go.  Your website needs to be very user-friendly and easy to use.

    Many research studies have been completed investigating the best way to layout a website for ease of use. The theory of website layout is heavily influenced by the eye-tracking studies we looked at earlier. As a result of these research studies, standards have been developed that outline exactly where on a website you should place certain information and where you should locate navigational menus and buttons and so on (see and

    Think about this – when you go to a website, you know that the company’s logo will most likely be located in the top-left corner and that you will be able to navigate the website using either the menu at the top or down the left-hand side.

    So why not make it easy for your website visitors by following the same standards that are already being used by millions of other websites.  If you don’t - you will confuse your visitors and your visitors will question whether you are even a credible business given that your website is so poor.

    I like to use this analogy: think about what it would be like if every time you jumped in a different car the controls were in a different place.  How frustrating!  A Bentley can still be better than a Honda without putting the steering wheel in the back seat and the gear stick in the glove-box.  Don’t make your website a nightmare for your visitors – follow the standards.
  • Website Loading Time
    Studies have consistently shown and it is now widely accepted that if your website takes longer than 8-10 seconds to load on a 56k modem then you run a serious risk of losing your visitor to a competitor's website and your trust and credibility is damaged.

    A good professional website designer should be able to create your website so that it loads quickly.  Do not compromise on this point! If they can not do this for you, then find another designer.

    If you website takes a long time to load it affects the trust and credibility your visitor has with you.  It is simple as that.  You can check the loading times of your website by going to

    Graphics and photos will have the biggest impact on the loading time of your website.  Multimedia elements such as animations, audio and video can have a serious negative affect on your loading times.  Text usually makes little or no difference at all to loading times.

    Optimise your images so that they load as quickly as possible.  Most graphic’s programs allow you to do this.  If your graphics program doesn’t have the required features you can use the free tool available through the Zeald website –
  • Trust Building Elements
    So far we have looked at ways that your website can be setup to help you establish trust and credibility.  What we have seen so far are ways of establishing your trust and credibility passively: through the professionalism of your website design and the general way that it is setup.

    It is important that you proactively establish your trust and credibility– right from the minute your visitors hit your “landing page” (the page where your visitor arrives.  It is worthwhile noting that your first landing page is not necessarily always your homepage. If you have links from other sites or emails, your visitors first entry to your site may be a ‘special information’ page.

    Specific thinks will help you establish trust and credibility, including:
    • Guarantees
    • Testimonials
    • References
    • Partners & Affiliates (borrowed credibility)
    • Certifications
    • Awards
    • Case Studies
    • Your Company Profile/History
    • Contact Details
    • A Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Trade
    • Your Client List
Obviously not every company will be able to put all of these on their website, but from this list, ensure you take the time to strategically place some the elements outlined above on your landing pages and throughout the other pages within your website.
Topics: Persuasion


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