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Trust is built on credibility.

Credibility comes from acting in others’ interests before your own. This applies to your website as well. When you design your website for credibility, you have a strategic advantage over your competition.

Your website is often the first point of contact for your prospects and customers. It is responsible for making good first impressions and for delivering sales and multiple sources of revenue.

The world’s leading researcher on web credibility, BJ Fogg, says there are 4 types of credibility:

  • Presumed – general assumptions  (e.g. a brand we’ve heard of is more credible, an unknown brand less so)
  • Reputed – third-party reference (e.g. your partner said it’s good or your friends say it sucks)
  • Surface – what we find on simple inspection (e.g. the website looks like it’s high quality vs it seems confusing)
  • Earned – personal experience (e.g. friendly customer service or text full of typos and factual errors)

A credible website makes people feel:

  • safe trusting what it says,
  • comfortable sharing their personal data, and
  • confident it’s worth spending their time and money there.

Tips for improving credibility

Here are some key tips for improving your website’s credibility.

  1. Make it easy to verify the accuracy of information posted on your website by providing third-party support (citations, references, source material) for information you present and link to this evidence.
  2. Show that there’s a real business behind your website by listing a physical address.
  3. Highlight the expertise available from you/your team in the credentials, content and services you provide.
  4. Show that honest and trustworthy people stand behind your website and convey their trustworthiness through images and/or text.
  5. Make it easy to contact you by providing your telephone number, physical address, email address and easy-to-use contact forms.
  6. Design your website so it looks professional (or is appropriate for your purpose) by paying attention to visual design, layout, typography, images, consistency, usability and navigational aids.
  7. Make your website easy-to-use and useful by letting go of your ego and focusing on the user’s experience/needs.
  8. Update your website’s content and review its functional operation regularly.
  9. Use restraint with promotional content (paid offers and advertising) and avoid pop-up ads, distinguish sponsored content from your own, and keep your writing simple, clear, direct and sincere.
  10. Avoid errors of all types no matter how simple they seem — typos and broken links hurt your credibility more than you realize.

Be careful not to overdo it though. Moderation works in your favour. And, as BJ says,

To increase the credibility impact of a website, find what elements your target audience interprets most favorably and make those elements most prominent.

More next time. Until then, remember to LOVE YOUR WORK, whatever it may be.

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