"Trust is the glue of life. It's the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It's the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”
― Stephen R. Covey
If people don’t trust you, they won’t willingly hand their money over to you. And that makes it pretty hard to make a sale.
We all know from our day-to-day lives that trust is hard-won and easily lost. That’s why your first impression is so important - if people feel that there’s something off about your website, they’ll leave before you have a chance to tell them what you’re all about.
So what are some website mistakes that make your site look untrustworthy?
1. Poor website design
Books aren’t the only things that get judged by their covers... Unconscious bias seeps into our opinions about everything from people to places to—you guessed it—websites.
For example, which of these two hotels would you rather stay at?
Or this one:
Did you notice that you’re basing that decision on nothing more than a screenshot of their home page? One of which doesn’t even show a picture of the hotel!
When your website design looks dated, confusing, or—let’s be honest—ugly, people will judge your business to be lower-class and less trustworthy.
To make a positive first impression, represent your brand with a modern, professional, mobile-friendly design. And that means updating your site on a regular basis.
2. Missing SSL certificate
In 2018, Google started flagging all websites that did not have an SSL certificate with this warning to web browsers:
Whoa, talk about untrustworthy! Your customers are going to feel like they took a wrong turn down a back alley to the bad side of town.
What is an SSL certificate? It’s a bit of encryption that ensures all data passed between your website and your customer’s web browser is kept private. The good news is a basic SSL certificate is cheap and easy to get. Your web host may even offer a basic one free of charge. However, if yours is a well-known brand or you conduct a lot of ecommerce, you’ll want to upgrade to a more advanced/more secure version.
The SSL certificate is a vital part of your web development and SEO and there’s really no excuse not to have one.
3. Grammar and spelling errors
I can’t stress this enough. Spellcheck, while incredibly useful, is not 100% reliable.
It can be hard to catch every typo, missed comma or mixed up homophone on your website, I know. But when customers see these mistakes it detracts from your professionalism. If you’re writing your own copy, have at least one or two people read through your content before it’s posted to help you identify errors.
If you’re paying a copywriter, double-check their work (we make mistakes, too).
What will add trustworthiness to your website?
"Consistency is the true foundation of trust. Either keep your promises or do not make them.”
― Roy T. Bennett
Be honest and authentic
People have amazing BS-detectors. So the best thing you can do to build trust is to be authentic to your brand. Don’t try to project an image that isn’t true to who you are and what you do. I see this a lot with small businesses that for one reason or another want to conceal just how small they really are. What you might do instead is highlight the benefits of working with a company that is nimble and responsive.
Be consistent in your brand messaging
This is one that smaller companies can borrow from their larger competitors. When creating your marketing material - whether it’s your website, social media accounts, or printed brochures - use consistent colors, logos, and fonts. Because consistency breeds familiarity and familiarity breeds trust.
Solve people’s problems
There is nothing that will endear you to prospective customers faster than solving their problems. Whether it’s sharing how-tos on your blog, or offering a product that serves a highly specific purpose, people want to feel like you “get” what they need and are helping them achieve their goals.