Your website never gets a second chance to make a first impression. When Internet users visit your website, they make a judgment about it AND your organization. That subliminal judgment also includes how trustworthy you are. Here’s why website quality and online trust are inseparable…
The first assessment happens almost instantaneously. Our brains subliminally decide if the website or landing page is one we like, based on our innate perceptions of quality. This initial reaction continues to prejudice a more considered review of the page and reduces trust and the likelihood of taking the desired conversion action.
This post is on the third leg of the stool for online trust building; the relationship of website quality and online trust. It is the fourth of a four-part series dealing with online trust. The series provides some specific steps you can take to create more trust in the minds of visitors to your website. You can view the other posts here:
It should be no surprise that the quality of a website impacts the perception of trust by the Internet visitor to it. After all, aren't you affected by what you see when you visit a "brick and mortar" business outlet?
A website is a place you conduct business. For many organizations, it is the only place they conduct business. It is logical to assume that part of the process of initial trust development is the quality of the “place” you do business.
We are much more likely to trust our money to a professional-looking business staffed with knowledgeable people then to a rundown business with sloppy and uninterested employees.
Remember that the perception of quality is in the eyes of the visitor and not in the mind of your website designer, you or your employees. That is why I advocate the involvement of target market consumers in the website development process and testing your website assumptions and design with members of that group.
What Do You See...a Duck or Bunny?
Perception is Reality
Never believe that your customer thinks like you!
Developing a quality website:
First impressions of website are subliminal and take place at the emotional level. A quality website in the minds of the targeted visitor will be one designed specifically for them at several levels. They include:
- Graphic Design
- Structural Design
- Content Design
- User Experience Design
Graphic Design: Graphic design is the overall graphic feel for the website. It includes color selection, fonts, images, etc. The graphic design of a website is consistent across all of the pages of a website. There are a lot of good resources on creating a quality website from a graphic design perspective. Many of them are based on proven graphic design principles.
I would urge that designers and developers do a few more things as part of their efforts:
- Understand the profile of the target market and their psychographics, then design for them.
- Understand the business purpose of the website, then design for it.
- Understand what the marketing field has learned about color psychology, eye path, graphics, etc. and incorporate that information into the design of a quality website.
Structural Design: Structural design equates to website usability. We regard structural design as the overall organization and accessibility of information on a website. Designing and testing for usability issues will address the structural design elements. Examples of good structural design include intuitive and consistent navigation, copy consistent with audience reading levels, site loading quickly, etc. Good structural design is an essential element of the perception of a quality website in the minds of visitors.
Content Design: Content is the informational components of our website. It is the persuasive components that will, if done right, increase the likelihood that visitors will take the action we would like them to take. Examples of content design elements include the use of branding elements such as a logo, Value Proposition, good persuasive copy with headlines and subheads, bullet points, testimonials, calls to action, etc. In fact, the content and design process should be done after we have the visitor profiles and site objectives. This should be implemented well before the graphic design process that is addressed above.
The key is providing content that is relative and interesting to your target audience. To do this, you have to know your audience better than they know themselves. You need to have content they relate to and want. You also need to keep content current and update the site regularly.
User Experience Design: A better user experience involves making your website more personal and social. It also includes the personalization of the website experience to specific segments of the targeted market. Such personalization of the website experience has been shown to be an increasingly important factor in getting conversions.
Examples of ways we personalize the user experience include:
- photographs or video of the business and its representatives
- providing a different website experience by segmenting visitors based on previous visits, geographic location, site content interactions, etc
- use of synchronous communications media, e.g., instant messaging, click to call, etc.
The more we tailor the website experience to a particular visitor profile, the higher the quality of website that will be perceived on the part of that visitor. The higher the perception of quality, the more perceived trust is generated in the mind of the visitor. The more perceived trust, the more likely the visitor will take the desired conversion action.