We'd all like to believe that the first impression isn't everything - but what if it is? The truth is, whether we like it or not our brains are trained to form quick judgments. This probably stems from prehistoric instinct to judge whether a plant is edible or poisonous, or if an animal is dangerous or harmless.
It takes a person 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds) to form an opinion about your website. In that time, someone can decide whether or not they'll even bother reading the text or move on to your competitors.
What is online credibility and why is it so important?
Each of us has been there - that moment where you decide to start a business. It's scary, I know. I've been there a few times. I'm there right now, in fact. Despite being in the industry for years you have to make sure that your new business portrays that authority; the impression that you do indeed know what the hell you're talking about.
The simple fact is, a first impression goes a long way. When it comes down to it, really the most important thing about our relationships with our clients is that they feel that they can trust us. With trust comes paying customers which allows us the luxury of continuing to be able to do what we love and build a sustainable and successful business.
That trust stems from our credibility. That gut feeling you get when you know the person you're thinking about hiring knows their stuff and can take care of you in that area where you feel helpless.
Online credibility is closely tied to your brand. Your brand is more than your logo, it's the overall impression that doing business with you makes. Your website is a huge part of your brand because it's often someone's first impression of your business. See where I'm going with this?
The Impact of Your Website's First Impression
I love data. Data helps us make educated decisions that can help make or break our business. Here are some facts about online credibility.
- 89% of B2B customers search the web before making a purchasing decision
- 75% of users admit to judging a company's credibility based on their website's design
- 94% of first impressions are design-driven
How to Boost Your Credibility with your Website
You probably already have an inkling of whether your website is making a less than stellar first impression. Here are some key places to ponder that may need some attention:
The Design & Technology
Make it pretty. A clean, modern, sophisticated design that represents your brand is incredibly important.
Mobile first. Make sure your website uses responsive design. This means that when someone visits your website on their phone, they are seeing something that's optimized for that display. They shouldn't have to pinch and zoom to read it!
High quality images. Great photography goes a long way to making your website credible. Be careful with stock photography or stock icons. They can actually hurt your online credibility if it looks too generic.
Online payment security and SSL. Sell things online? Your customers deserve to know that their information is secure. Make sure you have an active SSL certificate so that visitors see that "https://" in the address bar before your domain. Use plain English to tell them in conjunction with some badges that indicate that their info is secure.
Say no to ads. Unless you're running a heavily content-driven site where you rely on ads for revenue, they're tacky and you shouldn't even go there.
Contact info. Make it clear how people can reach you. It's amazing how much just having a phone number listed can do for a customer's peace of mind.
Fix broken links. If links on your site are broken, either internal or external, it makes it look like your website is not maintained. No maintenance can leave an impression that you don't care about your business.
Clarity of message. Sometimes we can get too wordy because we have so many great things to say, but it's often best to keep things simple and concise. Working with a copywriter or content strategist who specializes in websites can help a lot.
Transparency. People are going to be willing to want to work with you if they know it's a real person behind the business name. Show them who you are through revealing parts of your personality in your copy and in your photos.
Easy to find info. Your website is where potential customers go to find more information about your product or service. Don't make them work for it.
Showing prices. Being clear about your pricing can help bring in customers instead of scaring them away to research elsewhere.
Client list. Your website is the perfect spot to namedrop who you've had the privileged of working with. Make a list, displaying logos is best for visual impact.
Testimonials & Case Studies. Real people talking about your business makes a huge impact. Video testimonials are super awesome. Case studies and actually telling stories about your clients and how their lives have been made better as a result of your business helps to really build that trust.
Blogging. A blog can be a great tool in getting recognized as an authority in your space. Make sure to give it the attention it deserves on a regular basis.
Here are some things you can link to on your site or places online where people often find you that can heavily impact your online credibility.
Social media. Make sure to link to any social media accounts that you regularly maintain. If you have a Twitter account and have never actually tweeted, it's better to just leave it off.
Google business page. By going to business.google.com you can to set up a page for your business. You'll have to verify your address by Google sending you a postcard in the mail. This is how you get your business to come up in the logo mapped results in online searches. It's free and can do a lot to drive traffic to your site.
Yelp reviews. Positive online reviews are huge. Make sure to tell all your happy customers to go over to your Yelp page and leave you 5 stars! If and when you ever get a negative review, make sure to respond to it with constructive feedback. It shows you take care of all of your customers.
One Day Labs is a collaborative web design agency based out of Santa Rosa, California. We specialize in building affordable, high quality responsive websites in one day. We want to work with you! Let's talk and see if we'll work well together.
Melissa is the Founder and CEO of One Day Labs. She's a proponent of efficiency through collaboration and passionate about empowering entrepreneurs and small business owners.