10 Design Tips That Will Boost Your Online Credibility
Credibility is one of the most important aspects of your website. Being credible means people feel like they can trust you – as a person or as a company. Then again, trust is the base for any good relationship. And that’s what you want to establish on your site, right? A good relationship with your visitors, and as that with your current and potential users or customers.
Here is the good news: There are lots of things you can do to gain more credibility. Adding some personality to your site is just one of them.
People love the feeling to interact with a real person, rather than a machine. The design of a website and the personality that comes with it can trick us into this idea – even if we are well aware that all we see is some code sent to us by a faraway server, and interpreted by our web browser.
Here are 10 expert tips how to boost your web credibility through personality.
1. Show that your organization is real
I don’t know about you, but I still like it to go to a store, rather than buy stuff online. I love it to walk around and get distracted by thousand of products, before I find what I’m looking for. I want to take things into my hand before I buy them, as if I could feel their quality with my hands, or in a matter of fact the lack of the same.
I also look at the store itself to help me with my buying decision – a messy and poorly organized store makes me want to go somewhere else.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to a matter of trust. The multi-level experience that I have in an offline store helps me decide whether or not I’m in a trustworthy buying environment.
On the Web, all of this becomes much more difficult. Sure, it’s easy to buy something by just a few mouse clicks. Also, product comparison might be more convenient online. Still, your clients are missing out on a lot of the experience they might appreciate about a real store.
Make sure you show your visitors that you are a real organization. Let them feel that you are not made up, and in case they want to meet you, or complain about something, they could come by and do so.
Contact details communicates much more than just being available.
The WWF website does a great job in building trust, simply by being available. When having a question, you can even choose if you prefer to anonymously browse their online support center, call them, send an email, or visit them. Also, they are actively using different social media platform, which shows that they are engaging with their community.
2. Be authentic
A very important aspect about your credibility is your authenticity. There are plenty of little companies and one-man businesses who believe they are taken more seriously if they pretend to be more of a big corporation.
If you are alone, why not just say so and therefore stay true to yourself. By pretending to be bigger than you really are – or even someone else – you only get yourself into trouble and lose your credibility.
Authenticity helps you to stay realistic and to make only promises that you can keep.
The interaction designer Jarad Johnson boldly claims who he is, which really makes me trust him. One guy with that much self confidence, he’s got to be a genius. If he pretended to be a multi-person company, not only would he be lying, but he might be expected to take on bigger projects that he can handle. Authenticity helps you to stay realistic and to make only promises that you can keep.
3. Offer a physical address
Offer a physical address on your site. Don’t worry, chances are little that anyone will actually come by, but at least you offer your users the possibility to do so. For people like me, this is very important. At least then I can take a look at google street view and get a vague impression of who I’m dealing with.
Also knowing that I could send a letter for whatever reason makes me a happy client. I could send you a postcard because I really like you, or if I don’t like you, I could send you a threatening note. Not that I would ever do that, but just knowing that I could makes me trust you.
A physical address reassures your visitors that your company really exists.
I love it how they phrase it on oliverrussel.com: “Need some physical contact?” This shows that they know about the importance of a physical address. Be it for a postcard, invoice, or a personal visit. There is no doubt about whether they really exist and whether or not I can trust them as a company.
4. Show what your place looks like
Also a great way to give your users some realy store experience is to give them an impression of how your place looks like. By proving to your users a picture of your office, store, or restaurant, you proof that your organization really exists. The result: People will be more willing to trust that you.
Proving that your organization really exists helps people to trust you.
For example, I love it how ‘t Raadhuis van Goudriaan put their restaurant as eye catcher on the front page. Sure, this image is perfectly photoshopped, but who says you are not allowed to cheat a little bit? If it is only half as romantic in real, I’d still love to go there for a nice dinner.
5. Be open about who you are
Being in a store not only gives me an impression of the physical place, but also of the people who work there. I can ask any question I want and if the salespeople are likable I can even chat with them a little.
Usually it only takes me a couple of minutes to figure out if I can trust someone, which greatly helps to judge their expertise and credibility.
Again, online this is more tricky. Salespeople with expertise are just as important and if I buy stuff online doesn’t mean I have less questions or need less information to make a decision.
By showing that your organization is run by real people and that these people are authentic and trustworthy, you can make your users feel more comfortable on your site.
Personality helps you to make people feel comfortable with contacting you.
A nice example to show here is Balsamiq. Their whole marketing strategy is really down to earth and very personal. I wouldn’t feel any hesitation to get in touch in case I needed to. They also offer very different channels to contact them and also personal contact details for every member of their team. This way I know how to contact them, and also who I’ll be speaking to.
6. Introduce your team as real people
By showing a picture of your team you can proof that you and your team are real people. Match the setup of the picture to your company. For example, you can let your team be more casual if you are a creative agency.
However, especially for bigger companies or corporations, an out of the ordinary team picture can be very likable. Pictures tell us a lot about people. If you can’t decide how to present your team, just let everyone choose for themselves. They probably know best how they want others to see them.
Pictures of your team will increase your credibility.
The Toni&Guy team page shows a group of friendly-looking and creative people. When hovering over them, they go from black/white to color and on click you even get a nice description per person.
7. Point out your expertise
Also, you can point out your expertise in order to make people trust you. On the Web, it is very important to keep in mind that your users can only see what you show them.
There is no body language that gives away if you feel confident, and there is no facial expression to tell how certain you are about what you say. Give away enough information about what you do and what you are good at to make people believe you.
Be the expert in your field and make sure your visitors know it.
The team of pursuityourself.com make perfect use of the context of their site to position themselves as experts whom we can trust. They present themselves as very likable guys, who know all about the perfect suit. Very authentic.
8. Show who is behind your support
Not only offer support, but actually show who’s on the other end of the line. Speaking for myself, I prefer to get into touch with people I already know. Consider pictures of your support team a first introduction.
For example, when you offer a live chat, pictures of your support staff can also help to get your visitors reach out. Instead of asking questions to an automated database, they know they can expect a real chat conversation with another human.
Give your visitors an idea who they will be talking to when they contact customer support.
Targetprocess give you a very personal and reassuring idea of who I’ll be contacting. It even feels like they give me the choice – not only between different channels of communication – but also between their support people.
9. Offer easy to use contact options
Obviously, the World Wide Web is worldwide. No matter what we are looking for, we can easily end up somewhere on the other side of the globe. While chances, that someone will actually stop by to say “Hi” are quite small, people still want to reach out to you. They want to ask questions and tell you their opinion. Promote your contact information somewhere very easy to find.
We are all different and that’s why we all prefer different means of communication. While some of us love to talk on the phone, others prefer chat, or even email as it gives them more time to think through their questions. Ideally, you consider all of these preferences and offer multiple ways to contact you.
Diverse contact details and a personal tone of voice will let your visitors feel welcome and appreciated.
For example, Pulpfingers offer different contact options, such as a contact form, email address, or social media buttons. Besides, their tone of voice is very personal and inviting, making sure people feel welcome and appreciated.
10. Be active on social media
Being on social media has almost become a must have for any company. As social media is all about interacting with others and sharing stuff, it’s not a surprise that people use these channels to contact you.
Not being active on social media can disappoint your users if that’s the way they have chosen to get in contact. At the same time, it works the other way around. For example on facebook and twitter, people are very communicative – the perfect base to get them involved in a conversation.
Just make sure, you don’t make any promises you cannot keep. Select only as any social media platforms as you can maintain. Never pretend to be active on social media and then not respond to your community.
Social media is a great way to document your company’s activities and share them with your community.
The World Bank is a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world. On the website, they invite you to connect with them on a variety of different social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, etc. Besides, they embedded latest social content, such as Youtube videos and Flickr photos directly on their site. The World Bank is very active on all their social media platforms – connecting people from all over the world, sharing their work, and presenting themselves as a very likable organization for the good of humanity.
What are your experiences with online credibility? Is it important? Or maybe overrated? How do you establish credibility on your website?