This week I begin my series on 21 Steps to Building a Great Website.  The information in these posts is from over 20 years of experience working on websites and felt that I could share this knowledge with everyone.

Today we begin with Step 1 – Understanding The Website Goals.  This step is actually then broken down into 5 individual categories, Visibility, Credibility, Usability, Sellability and Operating Costs.

This is the first process my team takes when meeting with a client.  It helps the client to also see if it is profitable to have a website.  My team also works with the client to complete these tasks.

So let’s dive into this subject.


So what is website credibility anyway?  Website credibility is designing your website in such a way that it comes across as trustworthy and knowledgeable.  When Brick and Mortar stores were the only way to shop, it was easier to build that trust due to interacting with each other.  Now in the days of everything going online, your website has to project that trust.  Is this easy to do?  Depends on the type of business you are.  However there are simple things that you can do as a website owner to gain peoples trust and increase your credibility.

Credibility Scale, from zero to lots

According to BJ Fogg, the world’s leading researcher on web credibility, has said that website credibility is about designing your website to make it appear trustworthy and knowledgeable.

Your website is often the first point of contact for customers, responsible for first impressions and, of course, revenue. Companies that design for credibility have a strategic advantage over the competition.

Fogg says there are four types of credibility:

  1. Presumed credibility is a general assumption. A brand we’ve heard of is more credible; an unknown brand is less credible.
  2. Reputed credibility is a third-party reference. For example, your wife said Product X is good, or your friends said Service Y sucks.
  3. Surface credibility is what we find on simple inspection. A website may “look” high quality or “seem” confusing.
  4. Earned credibility is personal experience, like through friendly customer service or, in contrast, copy full of typos and factual errors.

There are a lot of things you can do to make your website credible.  Last time I checked the list was over 40 different things to do or add to your website.  For this post I will only discuss the Top 10 that I feel are important to start with.  

  1. Web Design Matters! A website that is attractive and usable is going to have a higher credibility score than a website that is thrown together in a half hour.  A great looking, well laid out, easy to use website attracts buyers.  It is the same with having a store front.  Do you keep it nice and neat and have signs up to let people know where to go for stuff?  You do the same for your website.  Have stuff properly labeled, good descriptions and so on.
  2. Address and Phone Number!  This is a real splinter in the heel for me.  If I cannot easily find out how to contact your business, then I’m leaving.  Most buyers want to be able to contact the business or visit their location.  So put your address and phone number on your website.  A good place for this is in the footer section and if you want have your email address and phone number in the header at the top of the page and make sure it is clickable on mobile devices so users can call you without having to write down the number.
  3. Relevant Information.  A website that displays relevant information is deemed more credible in the users eyes.  If possible tailor the experience to the users profile.
  4. Staff Photos and Bios! Okay, so a lot of people don’t like having their picture taking.  However having a page with bios and photos of the people that work for your company builds credibility. You want the user to feel like they are interacting with your brick and mortar store. Even though everything is going towards online, people still want to put a face with a business.
  5. Real Photos, not stock images!  To me seeing the use of stock images right away tells me that this business might not be that great.  Why?  If the business is that great, then they should have photos of the products, employees, store or anything that can relate to the business.  Why use a stock image that anyone can buy.  Be original and take a photo or higher a photographer to come in and take photos.
  6. Email Policy,  if your collecting email addresses for a newsletter or to let people know about promotions, be clear about how their email address is going to be used.  Disclose if you are selling the list to a third party or keeping it for internal use only.  Don’t mislead your visitors!
  7. Testimonials,  they are great to use, but what them even better is if there is more information.  The persons name, company, a photo.  This needs to be real people.  I went to a website that the domain name was only purchased 5 days prior to visiting it.  However they had over 200 testimonials about their service. I do my research and check to see when the domain name was bought and so on.  So how did they get over 200 testimonials in only 5 days, must be one hell of a product.  No, they used an auto-generating testimonial website to produce the testimonials.  What works best for testimonials is a video testimonial if possible.
  8. Detailed product descriptions,  I hate when I look for a product and it says something basic.  I want more information.  the more information provided the higher the chance of a successful transaction.
  9. Show Prices, put your prices on the products.  Research has shown that if a product listed online has a price next to it, the chances of someone making the purchase from that website increase by 45%.  If there is no prices and the visitor has to contact your business to get them, than you could lose business to a competitor that has them listed.
  10. Display “Trust Symbols”, so what are trust symbols you might ask, they are The Verisign Seal, or if you have an opt-in form for email then display the Truste Privacy Seal.  Also make sure your website is “HTTPS”.  

So as you can see in this post, I have provided you with a few examples of ways to make your website credible. 

Tomorrow we will write about Usability and how it affects the way people interact with your website and why it is important to understand.

If you would like to learn more about Adirondack Online Services approach to building a website or getting yoru website ranked, feel free to contact us.

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