How to Build Trust of Your Visitors?

The most important thing you can do to consistently increase traffic to your site is make it trustworthy. Whether you are offering information or selling a product, your site design can promote trust...or lose it.

The question faces everyone who has a Web site. What makes users flood o­ne site while another rarely gets a hit?

No, not mass mailings, heavy advertising or great search engine optimization. Those may get someone to your site o­nce, but it won't make them stick around and it definitely won't bring them back for repeat visits or make them tell all their friends about the great site they discovered.

So, what is the answer? In a word, trust. What makes a Web site trustworthy? Credibility, usability and low risk. These are all important factors when Internet users are faced with making decisions about which sites to visit - and to shop at!

If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Web site that are easier to use are more welcoming, seem more friendly...and less risky. A site that projects honesty, a positive reputation, expertise and predictability -- all characteristics that contribute to credibility -- make visitors feel safer in using the site and relying o­n the information, or products, that the site offers.

A Web site that is easy to navigate allows your visitors to find what they are looking for. So simple, and it really helps to reduce risk and build trust. The use of color, type fonts, the words you use and the amount of information are also important. The more complicated the site gets and the harder it is to read the content, the less trust...and less trust means fewer returning visitors.

The research found that simple site elements may be so distracting that they interfere with using the Web page. Centered text that has jagged margins o­n both sides, that wonderful background graphic that is so pretty and makes some of the text unreadable, flying cursors that follow your every move with distracting animations... all take away from the trust a user feels and reduce the credibility of your site.

If your site does not have a privacy statement and a mission statement, consider adding them. These two elements let your users know what your intentions are and what you plan to do with information they trust you with.

This research says that the goal of your site should be to make your visitors feel that their vulnerability won't be exploited if they use your site. If you can make this happen, they are more likely to tell friends about your site - a recommendation from a friend is the best way to build trust in your Web site and what you have to offer on it. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to build a steady stream of visitors... just ask Google. It certainly worked for them!

Online trust can be very difficult to regain once it is lost. The first impression you make may be the last if your site doesn't focus as much on credibility, usability and low risk for your users as it does on your product.