I was listening to a Success Magazine interview with David Horsager, author of The Trust Edge, and it struck me that his 8 Pillars of Trust concept could be a useful way of looking at your website for trust issues.
The internet is all about trust, after all. Google ranks trustworthy sites more highly than those it considers untrustworthy. Consumers trust companies with websites — trustworthy websites — more than those without. Social media, inbound marketing, and all the modern methods of engaging with customers depend on being visibly trustworthy enough that people feel comfortable clinking your link or giving you their email address.
Trustworthiness is one of the hardest things for people to apply to their own sites, though. In testing, we find a very high level of agreement on what constitutes a trustworthy website, but people looking at their own sites just don’t see it. “Don’t you think that homemade look is really more authentic and engaging?” they say, and “Mistakes in grammar just show you’re human.” You know that you’re trustworthy, after all, so it’s hard for you to see things that suggest you aren’t.
- Consistency: Your design, navigation, font, and tone should be consistent throughout your website. Even if you have to leave the site for your catalog, blog, or database, visitors shouldn’t feel it. Every part of your website should look and feel the same, so visitors don’t feel like they’ve been hijacked or get confused. Your blog posting and social media should also be consistent: we post here ever weekday and at our clients’ blogs on the same days each week, according to their preferences. It brings people back, keeps you on track, and adds to the trustworthiness of the website.
- Clarity: “People trust the clear and mistrust or distrust the ambiguous,” says Horsager. “Make sure your website clearly says what you have to offer and how people can get it,” is what we always say. Usability requires clear navigation, clear forms, and assurance that people who click on a link always know where they’re going and what they’re agreeing to.
- Compassion:Do you reach out to others in your social media, or is it all about you? Does your website consider your clients and showcase your team, or is it all about you? We’ve written before about being nice and its advantages in SEO, but compassion is another good word for it.
- Character: Your character shows in your website and in your social media. Your company’s image, the issues you choose to write and tweet and post about, and the way you respond to customers all show your character. If they don’t — if, for example, your website is so generic or so outdated that visitors can’t get any sense of your company character — then people will not trust you for that reason.
- Contribution: “Be a contributor who delivers real results,” says Horsager. Highlight the results you deliver at your website and in your social media. It’s far more effective than bragging about yourself (or your product).
- Competency: Horsager links this pillar to staying up to date. If you keep current in professional development, use the latest tools, and make sure your staff stays on the cutting edge — can your web visitors see that? Not if your website is outmoded or amateurish.
- Connection: Use your social media, your company blog, and other Web 2.0 elements to create connections and community with your web visitors. Nothing like that on your website? It’s time for an update.
- Commitment: Your web visitors can see a lack of commitment in your abandoned blog, your Twitter account with one tweet a month, web forms that don’t work or don’t get a response… even in an outmoded website.
Take an honest, objective look at your online presence with these elements in mind. Are there changes you need to make for the new year? Call Julianne at 479.966.9761 or email Rosamond@HadenInteractive.com and we’ll be happy to help.