Building Trust With Digital Design
Most people think effective digital design is all about encouraging users and customers to progress through their sales funnel and into taking a desired action.
Making an inquiry, subscribing to an email list, purchasing a product or service, etc…
But whereas this idea is certainly partly true, it misses out perhaps the most important part of design, without which, all the meticulously designed funnels and artfully crafted copy would be useless.
We’re talking about trust.
Whether you’re building an e-commerce website, creating a business portfolio, or setting up a digital platform, the first thing they all require to work effectively is design that’s built on trust.
This is because, although we don’t consider them this way, making a purchase or connection online is no different from starting a relationship in person. And as such (even more so as it’s more difficult to know who to trust online) users are constantly looking out for trust signals in the design of websites to see who they should work with and who they should steer clear of.
Make sure your business falls into the former category and join us as we explore four of the most effective ways to build trust into the design of websites and digital experiences.
Trust Through Familiarity
In order to put their trust in a brand online, before anything else, customers first need to feel comfortable. To feel comfortable, websites need to be easy to use and, above all, familiar.
To ignore this rule and create a website based on a free template from 2001 or that’s way before its time won’t, therefore, do you any favours. Such unfamiliar digital experiences can quickly generate uncertainty in customers, and as we know, uncertainty is a close cousin of mistrust.
To keep customers on your side, stick to conventional and best-practice digital design characteristics such as a logo and menu with About and Contact links at the top, and the site map, contact details, and things like terms and privacy policies at the bottom.
Such core design components and at-a-glance information are clear markers of a professional website. And, along with other elements like clear taxonomies and page titles, they let users know the business prides efficiency, reliability, and security.
The second part to building familiarity in your digital design is being aware of users’ expectations. When users click on a website, and the design that results fits in line with exactly what they expected, they’re instantly put at ease.
For example, on a business website, users expect to understand what the business does, see examples of their work, and be able to make an inquiry — typically in that order — within a few minutes of landing on the homepage. But if instead they’re faced with snail-like load speeds, over-enthusiastic pop ups, and wild design formats, they’re going to be much more frustrated and confused than trusting.
Trust Through Consistency
The web is a very confusing place for customers — both in the space between brands and within them.
And so, whether they’ve been spending the last two hours trying to find the right brand to buy a product from or ten minutes trying to wrap their head around the services of just one business, confusion is the default state many customers are in even before they land on your website.
One antidote to confusion (or chaos) is consistency (or order). In websites that promote the former in their design (the vast majority of websites), users are put on the defensive and are basically lost at sea. In those that use the later (very few websites), customers experience relief and feel like they’ve found a lifeboat.
A powerful way to generate consistency in your digital design is by sticking to a defined colour palette throughout your website; from the accent colours of icons, links, and buttons to your logo, font colours, and backgrounds.
The other big building block of consistency is your website’s copy. Every heading, description, and CTA should be written in line with your brand’s unique and audience-appropriate voice. For example, you wouldn’t mix slang with formal language, or write in a light, humorous tone when selling funeral services.
As well as allowing customers to quickly understand what they’re getting and feel like they’re in good hands, consistency in your copy will also help your brand give off a sense of honesty and authenticity — two highly sought after yet seldom found qualities.
Trust Through Exceptional Design
It’s easy to think the only purpose of exceptionally designed websites is to look good and make competitors look bad. But a high level of design communicates so much more — not least that it took a significant amount of both time and money to create.
Whether completely conscious or somewhat unconscious, entirely accurate or based more on a customer’s individual perception, customers consider the design of a website as directly related to your business’s credibility and commitment.
This can be seen in a study by the Stanford Web Credibility Project, that showed that nearly 50 percent of consumers assess the credibility of a site according to its overall design and visual components like layout, typography, and colour schemes.
With design so directly linked to credibility, it’s clear how much users associate great design with a high standard of security. And when supported with visual elements like security seals, secure colours like red and yellow, and help prompts, you have a recipe for a highly-trustable website.
Trust Through Community
Probably the first method that comes to mind when talking about fostering trust in your web design is social proof — i.e. our tendency to follow the lead of others and inform our buying decisions based on their experiences and opinions.
But to most websites and businesses, social proof simply means adding a page for a few reviews and testimonials. And whereas this will certainly help, in today’s landscape in which we don’t buy anything unless it has five stars from independent review bodies, video testimonials, and thumbs up from social media influencers, it’s far from good enough.
To allow your website to truly benefit from social proof, you need to integrate it into every aspect of its design. You may use opinions of those who are highly valued by your audience — experts, celebs, athletes, etc. — highlight achievements and awards, post regular blogs on industry events or even host your own, and lead discussions on forums and sites like LinkedIn.
We live in a globally connected society in which everything from the media we consume and the toilet roll we use to the restaurants we eat at and the holidays we go on are influenced by the opinions of those around us. Incorporate social proof into your digital design using methods such as those above, and you ensure your business becomes part of that ongoing wider conversation, rather than a stand-alone, disconnected entity like a high-street shop that’s been left to slowly die and fade away.
Worried your site isn’t converting because users don’t trust the design? Contact Cefar today for a free, no obligation review of your website.