While it may be hip to say otherwise, your small business needs a Web site. The same way you can’t ignore your blog for social media, you can’t ignore your site in lieu of a Twitter account. You may spend your afternoons engaging with people on social sites, however it’s your site that users will turn to for trusted information about what you do, how you do it, and how they can get it. But before you go just throwing something together, remember they’re looking for trusted information.
The Web site you create can’t help you if it doesn’t appear trustworthy to users. And that means more than just creating a professional design (though that helps). It means taking time to lay the foundation from the very beginning.
Here are 11 reasons customers won’t trust your Web site. It’s the what NOT to do.
It’s written like a brochure.
Do you read brochures handed to you while at the mall or when walking into a new establishment? No, you don’t. You don’t read them because even though they may hold important information, they’re as engaging as the phone book. You don’t want to commit the same sin on your Web site. Write your Web site as if your customer was sitting in front of you and you were verbally explaining to them all the benefits of your company and what you offer. Said simpler: Your Web site should sound like a person, not a corporate robot. Go read your Web site aloud and see which category you fit into.
It’s littered with typos.
I know. The larger your site, the harder it is to prune every sentence, however, each typo a user finds puts another ding into your credibility. Do your best to find typos and squash them dead.
You don’t say why you’re different.
If I’m on your site, it’s because I want to know what you’re all about and what you offer that the other guy doesn’t. Your site should be able to tell me this. If it doesn’t and you can’t clearly outline your point of difference, that means you don’t have one. I’m gonna go find someone who does.
You say ‘we’ too much.
Stop talking about yourself. Talk about me. That’s why I’m on your Web site, to serve MY needs.
It hasn’t been updated in five years.
One way to establish trust and show people there are living people behind your site is to keep your Web site as fresh and up to date as possible. That means giving it a good scrub as needed to reflect industry changes, new product offerings and maybe even new keywords customers are just now searching for. While you’re updating your content, also make sure you’re updating your copyright, as well. Nothing says “we’re dead” louder than a copyright date of 2004.
It’s hard to navigate.
Steve Krug said it best: Don’t Make Me Think (highly recommended reading). If I have to figure out how to navigate around your site, it doesn’t help me trust that you’re the right service provider for me. If you were, you would have anticipated my needs and laid your site out accordingly. If I’m struggling to find your Product pages, than your site must be for people way smarter than me. I’ll go elsewhere.
It’s buzzword city.
If I can play buzzword bingo on your Web site, we have a problem. Unless your product really is “revolutionary” and “game changing” don’t use these words. And if it is, still don’t use those words because I’m not reading them. Just show me instead.
It looks like a template.
The goal of your Web site is to tell people what YOU are about and to show how you’re different from anyone else on the Web. And it’s hard to establish trust in that when you’re using the same generic photos on your Web site, the same basic layout and the same site theme as your ten closet competitors. The more “you” you can place on your site, the more people are going to trust you. Instead of cruising istockphoto for generic employee photos, why not use photos of your real employees, feature your real customers (with their permission) or spend the money to create a custom site design? The more boilerplate your site looks, the less people will trust you really care about it.
There’s no About page.
It’s said a lot, but it’s true: people do business with other people, not with logos. Help people trust your Web site by telling them about yourself, why you do what you do, how long you’ve been doing it, and by introducing to the people who run your store. All of this information helps establish credibility and shows you’re not just going to take their money and run. Take some time to introduce yourself to the people you want to be your customers.
You don’t provide a real address.
If you fail to include a physical address with real contact information, then I’m pretty sure you don’t exist. If you did, you’d be telling me where you’re located so I could come see you, right? Give me a street address, your phone number, an email address and maybe even a Google Map embedded directly on your site with driving directions. Then I know that you’re real and want me to come find you.
No third-party endorsements.
I know YOU think you’re awesome, but show me what everyone else has to say. Prominently displaying third-party testimonials, awards or press coverage is a good indicator that you’re a business I can trust. What does everyone else think of you?
Above are 11 of the biggest trust breakers that commonly drive people away from your site perhaps without you even realizing it. What Web site no-no sends you running for the hills (or the nearest competitor)?