10 ways your website is losing your customers' trust

27/08/2014, By Chris Plowman Trust is an important quality in all walks of life, but if you’re a business that’s expecting someone to discover your website and give you money for goods or services then generating the trust that produces a sale is vital. Unfortunately, there are many things that websites do to instantly diminish a user’s trust. Here are just a few of these and some ways that you can move towards fixing them.

1. Being dull

Imagine your website as a conversation with a user. Perhaps they’re at a party. Is your website the social butterfly that guests flock to or the boring person in the corner that has nothing exciting to say, and that nobody’s quite sure why they were invited? 

We like to spend our time with those that have something interesting to say, and website users are no different. If your site isn’t engaging or incentivizing, your customer will quickly leave you and find somewhere else that is.

Tip: Use engaging social and email campaigns to keep users coming back and to keep your site in their minds.

2. Being out of date

Today’s newspaper is tomorrows chip wrapper as the saying goes. Same applies to your website. Keeping your content fresh gives people a reason to return to the site on a regular basis and keeps people exploring it for longer. It also gives users the sense that the site is being looked after regularly, which helps to build trust.

Tip: There is no need to write War and Peace blog posts or news articles. Short posts once a week are better than a 10,000 word piece every two months.

3. Making it hard for your user

Most users will come to your site knowing exactly, or at least approximately, what they want to find. Don’t make it hard for them to find it. If the relevant information is not served up quickly or isn't accessible, your user will have to spend too much time searching the site, or worst case somebody else’s, to get what they want.

Tip: The harder a user has to work for to find content, the more likely they are to give up.

4. Being inconsistent

Keep button types, page layouts, branding and marketing campaigns consistent across your site and social channels. If it looks like you have thrown together a collection of pages and ideas from various sources then your users will notice and it will make you look less professional. Keep it clear and consistent.

Tip: Don’t reinvent the wheel. If your users are going to expect your site to work a certain way then make it work that way. While your site might look amazing, if it’s not useable then it’s failed.

5. Complicated check-out points and end goals

Whatever your final goal for your user is, for example an ecommerce site would want a user to make a purchase, make the completion of that task simple and pain free.  Don’t hijack the checkout process with unnecessary sign-ups or adverts or make users go through steps that they weren’t expecting.

Tip: Let the user create an account AFTER they have completed their transaction. You already have all the details you need and all they have to give you is a password.

6. Making your site hard to use

Before the user even gets to complete a goal, they need to be able to navigate around your site. The user’s experience is key to how much trust they place in your site. If you visited a mechanic who used the wrong tools to do jobs or put the wrong sized tyres on your car, you’d quickly tell him to stop and go elsewhere. The same is true of websites; put things where people expect them to be and make the process as easy as possible and people will feel at home and trust what you do.

Tip: Do your research. Finding out how others do what you are aiming to do will help you see what works best and, more importantly, what doesn’t work.

7. Being unclear

If the user thinks you’re being deliberately vague about what it is you do they will grow suspicious. Make it clear what you do and the purpose of the site.

Tip: Follow the five second rule and make sure that users can tell exactly what you’re offering within five seconds. You can test this at Five Second Test.

8. Not being available to everyone

Does your website work on mobile, tablet, desktop, laptop, games console etc etc? Every device that’s able to access the internet is another device that your website needs to work on and, in a world where mobile traffic is increasing day by day, you can’t afford to offer a poor experience on mobile.

Tip: Test, test and test again. Every time a friend gets a new phone or gadget ask them to check your website.

9. Being slow

People are impatient in general and more so on the web. Don’t give people an excuse to leave your site and lose trust in you by having your site load really slowly, especially on mobile devices.

Tip: Use Google Analytics to measure your load time

10. Unprofessional tone of voice

The tone of voice used by a toy company will vary massively to that used by a funeral parlor. Make sure that the tone of voice you’re using is appropriate for your audience and again make sure it is consistent.

Tip: Consider what your tone of voice is NOT as much as what it is. Write a list of things to avoid and keep it handy for all.

There are many other ways that you can earn and lose your users’ trust, but making sure that you have these ten sorted will go a long way to ensuring that your site is trusted by your customers.

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