SiteTuners’ recommendations for Bevilles’ homepage are anchored on the principles of online trust and persuasion.
Building trust online may sound simple, but often, it isn’t.
Web visitors initially judge the trustworthiness of a website on a subconscious level. To effectively design to gain trust, you need to understand how online visitors think, then support the process of automatic decision-making. That is, you must avoid cognitive overload as much as possible and design for the shortcuts the brain uses to identify trustworthiness.
From years of experience, SiteTuners considers the following to be the foundations of building online trust:
- Design Coherence
- Persuasive Numbers
- Simplicity and Ease of Use
- Transactional Assurances
- Clear Expectations
Design is especially important.
People will judge your business from the overall visual look of your website. While web users’ expectations of a good, modern design are influenced by design trends, the process they use to identify a trustworthy website has remained consistent:
- Web users will rapidly scan a page to see if they’ll find relevant content on your site
- They gauge credibility based on website elements, color schemes and other details (or lack thereof)
People do not read online. You must make sure that your site is organized in a way that makes sense to them from the get-go. They should easily find information that is critical for them to establish the relevance of a web page to their task at hand. For this reason, a web page also needs to be free from unnecessary distractions.
Next, the human brain is wired to appreciate consistency. Online, this translates to people noticing if certain elements look different from others, or if colors used are appropriate to the theme or message that a website is trying to convey.
To improve the design of the Bevilles’ homepage, SiteTuners recommended the following:
- Replacing the rotating banner with a static image. Rotating banners, especially when they employ automatic movement, lower conversion rates because they are very distracting. Movement is a danger signal to the brain and is a source of cognitive friction on a web page
- Adding visual navigation to reflect Bevilles’ product categories. This way, the homepage can match visitor intent early on and visitors can self-select the product category they came for
- Keeping the page restrained in its use of colors and maintaining consistency in the use of colors for calls-to-action and highlighting important information
Numbers are known to be highly persuasive elements.
On the web page, certain numbers can build visitor confidence if they are believable and real.
For instance, the phone number is the biggest trust symbol on the web. Having a phone number lets visitors know that they are dealing with a legitimate company. It also reassures them that they can call the company when they have any concerns or issues about their purchases.
Other numbers, such as the number of satisfied customers or number of years the company has been around are effective as social proof. These numbers indicate to your web visitors that you have other customers and that your business is one they can depend on.
The original Bevilles’ homepage missed the opportunity to use the persuasive power of numbers. Hence, SiteTuners suggested the following improvements:
- Placing the phone number on the upper-right corner of the page, where users expect it to be, along with the hours of phone availability
- Adding a tagline that reinforced trust (e.g. Serving customers since 1934)
- Putting a “trust section” right below the main navigation to highlight the number of customers and products sold by the company
- Highlighting the number of products sold – promoting product width & depth.
Simplicity and Ease of Use
People dislike complexity.
Thinking is tiresome and energy-consuming to the brain, so it reserves heavy mental processing for more important decisions.
This is why online users will immediately bail out if they perceive a web page to be too complex. They would rather find another site than exert extra effort to figure out a convoluted web page.
Likewise, having a simple, easy-to-use website increases the likelihood that online visitors will stay and take the desired conversion action. Simplicity also lends transparency to a site, thereby building trust.
To achieve simplicity, you must aim to reduce cognitive friction. Usability expert Steve Krug wrote about this in his book “Don’t Make Me Think.”
SiteTuners applied the principle of simplicity and ease of use on the Bevilles’ website with the following recommendations:
- Follow the guided shopping principle by adding a visual navigation so that people are as few clicks away as possible from the items they want
- Make the Online Concierge Services, or product finder, more prominent on the homepage and accessible to visitors from wherever they are on the website
- Fix things that appear broken as they can chip away at visitor trust. Even small things like poor alignment can make potential customers question your attention to detail and make them doubt the safety of your website
Authority automatically earns trust.
People look to authority figures for knowledge and guidance and assume that they exercise high levels of competence and goodwill.
Well-known brands hold the same influence: people are more likely to trust them and their products as compared to those that are lesser-known. But, even unknown brands can benefit from established authority figures by utilizing the “halo effect” or borrowing some of that existing trust through simple association.
For instance, prominently displaying reviews, awards, media mentions, or trade associations on a website will extend the perception of authority from these well-known authority figures to the website.
While Bevilles is a relatively popular jeweler in Australia, the company’s e-commerce site also gets online visitors from Asia. Therefore, it made sense to boost the website’s authority with the following recommendation:
- Create a section that displays the brand logos of the jewelry products that Bevilles sold
E-commerce transactions carry a lot of risk for customers. More so when they involve big-ticket purchases, like expensive diamond rings for example.
Having prominent transactional assurances, like exchange policies and safety guarantees, will minimize online buyers’ perception of risk. Online visitors will be less anxious about buying something when they know they can return it for free if they’re not satisfied for any reason.
Bevilles’ original homepage showed transactional assurances, but these were inconspicuous and likely to be missed by online visitors. SiteTuners wanted to make this more prominent and suggested the following:
- Make the transactional assurances pop out in the header by removing other distracting elements
A large part of the visitor having a great experience is managing user expectations.
A website should make online users feel that they are in a safe environment by reassuring them that your company won’t break their trust.
Here are the best practices to meet the bare minimum for user expectations and bolster visitor confidence in completing the desired conversion action:
- Match your message on each page with the one on the landing page. When people don’t find the ad message on the page they landed on, it creates cognitive friction
- Follow web conventions. Web users have become accustomed to certain design norms on websites (e.g. logo in top left corner, navigation in the global header, etc.). These conventions allow users to easily find certain pieces of information and get expected results from specific actions. Designing a website according to established web conventions also makes it familiar to visitors, thereby building trust
- Never surprise visitors. Always make them feel that they are where they expect to be and that they are in control of their experience
SiteTuners worked to improve the user experience on Bevilles’ homepage by recommending the following:
- Place commonly used elements to their conventional locations (e.g. logo to the top left corner instead of being centered)
- Remove pop-ups that appear immediately after the visitor has landed on the page. Make sure you have earned the right to ask for their information first