Are visitors coming to your website, but yet you don’t seem to be getting as many new clients or customers as you thought you would? Are you wondering why more people aren’t signing up for your newsletter? Do you find yourself thinking about why your competitors’ websites might be more successful than yours? Do you really want to know why many of your website’s visitors don’t end up doing business with you?
It’s not just you who needs to be dressed to impress but your website needs to as well. First impressions count and your website only has a few seconds to ensure that the first impression it makes on your web visitors is a good one. If your website doesn’t look as polished and professional as you would in person if you were in meeting face-to-face with your customers, then it’s time for your website to stop lazing around in its pyjamas and make it look as trustworthy as you are.
Build credibility by having a good looking website
It’s simply a matter of trust. People tend to do business with people they like and trust and unless your website does not show your visitors how trustworthy you are you will lose business. You need to improve your website so that it inspires confidence in your potential customers and helps them to trust you enough to buy from you.
You need to think of your website as being a potential employee in your business. Your website represents your business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And it’s either working for you or against you. Many people don’t realise that their website can actually work against them. Having a poorly organised website can actually lower a potential customer’s perception of your worth, your reputation, your image, your credibility and your trustworthiness. Simply put, potential customers won’t buy from people they don’t trust. It may be better to have no website at all, than a poorly organised one.
Your site needs to look good – that first impression is important
Having a well-presented website can do wonders for your business. When the average visitor comes to your website, how do they judge how credible and trustworthy you are?
In 2003, the Stanford Web Credibility Project presented the results of their study: “How do users evaluate the credibility of websites?: A study with over 2,500 participants”. The 2,684 people in this study were asked to visit two random sites from a predetermined list of 10 categories, then rank each site on the more credible of the two, and share their comments.
You’d probably expect that most people judged the trustworthiness of a website on its content.
Well, surprisingly, that’s not what the study found. The overwhelming conclusion was that people really do judge a book by its cover, or in this case, a website on the way it looks.
In making their conclusions as to the credibility of any given website, participants commented repeatedly on the ‘design look’ (i.e. the look and feel of the site) more frequently than any other website feature. In fact, over 46% commented on how the website looked. Their comments included the layout of the website, the fonts used, how much white space was used, the graphics, and the colours, etc. In other words, nearly half of all the participants used visual cues, such as the site’s overall look and feel to assess the site’s credibility.
One of the overall findings from this study is that our participants relied heavily on the surface qualities of a website to make credibility judgments. We had hoped to see that people used more rigorous evaluation strategies.
Our results about the connection between design look and perceived credibility suggests that creating websites with quality information alone is not enough to win credibility in users’ minds. In most cases website designers need also to focus on the impression that the visual design will make, creating a site that achieves what many of our participants described as “a polished, professional look.”
The visual design may be the first test of a site’s credibility. If it fails on this criterion, Web users are likely to abandon the site and seek other sources of information and services.
Since the 1940s, social psychology research has shown that physically attractive people have been perceived to be credible sources. This basic human processing bias— “looking good is being good” —also seems to hold true for evaluating the credibility of Web sites, especially since design look is highly noticeable.
So, according to this research, the first test (and perhaps most important test) of your website’s credibility for many of your customers is the way your website looks. If it looks unprofessional, your potential customers may leave your site without ever reading your content. It is essential when designing a website to get the look and feel right so your site does not turn away your customers before they read your content.
Remember to think of your website as representing you. Your website needs to be dressed for success and not still wearing its pyjamas.