What Makes People Mistrust a Website?
Understand the full impact and importance of web design and SEO branding
You may run a website for a business in an industry that requires more trust than others. There’s also a chance that your website’s design includes elements that do not foster trust, or even worse, that create actual distrust. This post will help you to identify the most common culprits when visitors do not trust a website.
Many business owners and professionals don’t fully understand the impact of a well designed website and the importance of SEO. From their lack of knowledge on these topics, their website and online presence then suffers.
Your website is your 21st Century business card. Your website is where a majority of sales will happen, how people will find your contact information, and how people will learn about the services you provide. With that being said, it’s imperative that visitors trust your website.
When People Don’t Trust a Website, It’s Usually Due to Design
In a study done by website designer Joseph Putnam in regards to mistrusting a website, it was discovered that 94% of participants didn’t trust a website for reasons attributed to design elements. Website visitors were hesitant to trust a website that was unattractive, had navigation problems, or was challenging to access on a mobile device.
In Putnam’s study, it became apparent that a website’s success or failure is directly connected to design elements more than anything else. Putnam’s study disclosed valuable information in terms of things to avoid when creating and designing a website; here are some of the reasons people didn’t trust a website:
- Boring or too complex of a layout
- Lacking visuals
- Incorrect feeling/ unmatched tone to the topic at hand
- Too hard to navigate or lack of navigation aids
- Poor search indexes
- Too slow loading homepage
- Too much or too dense text
- Too small text
- Pop up advertisements
How To Avoid Distrust on Your Website
Make Sure Visuals Aren’t Lacking
Often, poor design choices will undermine a website. Putnam’s research placed the feedback received from research subjects into the following categories:
The Website Employs Too Complex of a Layout
A website must be easy to navigate. If the layout of a website is too busy or complex, the user will likely find it confusing or overwhelming and leave the page.
Make sure the layout is simple, yet attractive. It’s important to describe your website’s purpose on the homepage and have additional tabs to navigate the user throughout the website.
Similar to the layout of a page, if the website’s design is boring, it’s unlikely the visitor will want to stay on the page. Using relevant images and appropriate colors will help gain a visitor’s trust for a website because it will look professionally done.
Particularly, using authentic images or images unique to your business, such as, professionally taken photos of the office and/or employees, will provide the website visitor with a positive feeling. More positive feelings towards a website results in more trust.
Inappropriate Look and Feel For a Website
The overall feeling of a website is imperative when trying to gain the trust of a website visitor. The goal of a website is to match the topic and tone of what it is selling, promoting, or conveying to website visitors.
A website needs to cater to its visitors, making them want to dive deeper into the information provided on a given subject. There are times when a “corporate feel” is necessary for a website; along with times when a “non-corporate feel” is necessary. The topic is the key factors to keep in mind when designing a website, capturing the right feeling is entirely dependant on the subject at hand.
For example, when searching for a blog having to do with homeopathic forms of medicine, the expected feel for a blog on this subject is informative, natural looking; possibly with images of plants and nature,and professional; yet relaxing.
Comparing two different websites, it’s clear that the first website captures the desired feel better than the second website:
The images above represent the correct feel of homeopathic medicine while also conveying information in a clear and easy to navigate way, compared to:
Both homeopathic medicine blogs, the images of the second blog above show that it didn’t capture the right feel for the topic on their website. The second blog seems more bland, even arguably going against the idea of homeopathic medicine by using the caduceus symbol.
The correct feel for a website can make or break a visitor’s trust for a company.
Pay Attention to Navigation and Speed
It’s easy to get frustrated when finding, navigating, and visiting a website. Lack of navigation aids, in addition to, slow speed and difficulty finding thing will cause the notion of untrustworthiness among visitors. Avoid these navigation and speed errors to make your website work as efficiently as possible.
Too Hard to Navigate/Lack of Navigation Aids
A website needs to be easy to get around. If a person is visiting a website, he or she has a goal or a reason that he or she is visiting; he or she is there with a purpose. A website must be clear in where things are. An easy way to do this is to have a variety of tabs with appropriate titles along with tabs to click on the homescreen that will easily relocate the user to what he or she is looking for.
Poor Search Indexes
A website with poor search indexes will not gain positive traction. If search indexes aren’t created properly when designing a website, the search engine will have to go through a vast amount of records to retrieve the desired information. Going through so much information could cause the initial search to redirect the visitor elsewhere.
A poor search index will be obvious because it will take time to match data to the query. A poor search index associated with a particular website will make a website seem unprofessional and untrustworthy because of its inability to appear in a timely manner.
As the age of technology persists, humans are becoming less patient when viewing a website. If a website takes too long to load, a viewer won’t wait, he or she will leave the website and go to a different, faster loading website.
In terms of a splash page, this is used to gain contact information from a website visitor. These can be beneficial to a website when gaining trust but make sure they are designed in a professional and useful manner in order not to appear spam-like.
A flash introduction should entice the visitor to want to remain on the given website. If the flash introduction is slow moving, it is unlikely the visitor will have the patience to stay on the site to learn more.
Create a Website That is Compatible with Mobile Devices
Having the internet at your fingertips all hours of the day, no matter where you are is the beauty of a mobile devices; that’s why it’s imperative your website reads comfortably and compatibly on a mobile device screen by making sure these categories aren’t’ issues on your website:
Too Much or Too Dense Text
True for accessing a website on a computer or mobile device, it’s important that the text on a website is clear, concise, and to the point.
When visiting a website from his or her mobile device, it’s likely that person is checking or looking for something quick, he or she isn’t going to want to scroll through copious amounts of text.
Breaking up the text is important; if text is grouped together in long, thick paragraphs, not only is it time consuming for the visitor to read, it also doesn’t look attractive, it could even look unprofessional. If a website looks unprofessional, it will automatically be assumed to be an untrustworthy site.
Pop Up Advertisements
Creating a website that has minimal or no pop up advertisements is ideal for any visitor of a website, especially those accessing a website from a mobile device.
Pop up advertisements, overall disturb the user experience. When a visitor is visiting a website and has to keep closing ads, it will push that visitor away. Pop up advertisements are also not always compatible with mobile devices since they are often designed to pop up on a website that is being accessed through a computer. This becomes an issue when an advertisement does in fact pop up on a mobile device, it is harder to get rid of, thus seeming more intrusive to the visitor.
Making sure your website has little to no pop up advertisements will gain a visitors trust as well. A website with too many pop up advertisements will come off spam-like.
The Font Size is Too Small
Contributing to the overall look of a website, too small of print on a webpage will be a turn off for a visitor that is looking at a website on a mobile device screen. A website visitor wants to read text that is comfortable to the eye, text that is too small will cause the visitor to abandon that website.
Too small of print could also contribute to the notion that a website is unprofessional or untrustworthy.
Web Design Makes a Difference
Website design has a significant impact on a company’s online presence; so much so, a person’s trust of a particular website is determined almost immediately. As soon as a user mistrusts a website, he or she will abandon the webpage and move onto a different website that seems more trustworthy, thus, costing internet traffic for the company’s website or online presence. A well designed and well built website will generate more internet traffic, thus generating more business due to its trustworthiness.
Before a visitor even navigates through a website, he or she will draw conclusions about a business based on the aesthetics of a website. Putnam’s research, as well as the research of others, has indicated the importance of using visually pleasing colors and typefaces in addition to relevant and high quality images.
Web design impacts branding and site traffic, both also attributed to SEO.
In Putnam’s study it was discovered that website design was actually more impactful on website visitors han the actual content of the website; this is clear with only 6% of participants in Putnam’s study commenting on the content that appeared on the website. Perhaps the reason design is more impactful than content is because the design is the first thing a person is interacting with when visiting a website prior to reading any of the information.
A professionally and neatly done website is crucial when trying to gain and keep the trust of visitors. Based on Putnam’s study, it becomes clear that a fully functional, optimized, and easy to use website can make-or-break a company’s online presence.
Revisiting the notion that your website is your 21st Century business card, your website is what will define you right away to a website visitor. In order to market yourself well, you must have a professionally, well designed website.
Keeping Putnam’s study in mind, gaining the trust of website visitors should be simple; particularly keeping in mind that 94% of people distrust a website due to its design. Trust of a visitor will be determined almost immediately, keeping visitors on your website will not only build your online presence, but potentially your business.
Regaining trust of website visitors can be hard, but by allowing professionals skilled in SEO and website design, you can regain and keep trust from new website visitors.