Building Loyalty: 7 Web Design Strategies to Earn Your Audience’s Trust

Building Loyalty: 7 Web Design Strategies to Earn Your Audience’s Trust

First impressions matter.

Your website is often the first place where your audience learns about you. It can help them decide whether they want to do business with you – or leave and never come back.

Designing and optimizing a website properly can help you gain your audience’s trust and loyalty and can benefit your business immensely.

Below are seven strategies that can help you earn your audience’s trust and loyalty.

1. Have a Solid Website Design

responsive-design

A website with bad design, confusing navigation, and poor content can turn visitors away from your business quick. Conversely, an intuitive and appealing website can make visitors stay longer, increasing the chances of conversion.

Having a responsive and mobile-friendly website is of the utmost importance. A responsive website adapts to the screen size and device it is being viewed on so it looks great regardless if you’re using a mobile phone, tablet, or desktop.

More than eight in 10 Internet users will use a mobile device to access the web regularly this year, according to a forecast by eMarketer. Further, nearly 15 percent of Internet users, or 40.7 million individuals, will only surf the web via a mobile device (and this number is only expected to grow).

In addition, your website needs to be visually appealing and designed with your users in mind. Make it easy for your visitors to browse your website by using simple navigation, readable fonts and color combinations, interesting graphics, and appropriate white space.

To complement your design, your website content should be well written, engaging and helpful to your target audience. Doing a yearly website cleanup is a good way to keep your content fresh.

2. Be Transparent & Helpful

In order to build trust and gain loyalty from your audience, you’ll need to demonstrate competence and credibility. Show your visitors that you are a transparent organization by being true to your motives and interests.

Your About Us page is a good place to share information on what your company stands for, who your employees are, what you’re offering, how it works, and why you’re different from the rest of your competitors.

Creating a knowledge base and publishing blog posts are also good ways to engage your audience. Visitors are more likely to trust your website if you provide them with valuable content resources, answers to frequently asked questions, and blog posts that will help them solve their problems.

If you have an e-commerce website, make sure that your product descriptions are straightforward, accurate, and useful to customers. Be clear with what your cancellation or return policies are.

You can also share financial statements and press releases on your website.

Nonprofit organization Workshops for Warriors publishes their current and previous audited financials on their website:

wfw-financials

This is the perfect example of a transparent organization that leaves no questions unanswered for visitors and potential donors.

financials-nonprofit

3. Use Statistics & Case Studies

In order for your audience to understand what you do and how you do it, you need to provide concrete examples of your work and its results.

Creating a case study is a brilliant way to showcase your products and/or services, along with the positive results they have produced for your customers.

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It’s also beneficial to use statistics to promote your work. Gathering data, quantifying results and presenting real numbers show prospective customers that you’re serious about producing outcomes. Statistics put facts behind the claims.

4. Provide Social Proof through Customer Reviews & Testimonials

Adding a testimonial or review page on your site will prove that your business is reliable. People often depend on peer reviews to choose a business they can trust. They want to know if other people have used your products or services.

Reviews from respected people or influencers also add credibility to your business. Embedding reviews from your Yelp page to your site is good, too.

testimonials

You should reply to customer reviews whether they are positive, neutral or negative. Interacting with customers can also turn a negative review or experience into a positive one. Offering ways to make things right with the customer shows that your business really aims to provide customer satisfaction.

5. Showcase Awards, Certifications & Credentials

Another way to win the trust of customers is to post your awards, certifications, and credentials on your website.

Entering industry contests with your best work is another simple way to show your work output. Although it takes a lot of time and manpower to pull together content for contests, an award for great work is impressive for current and prospective customers.

Here’s an example from Honest Body Fitness:

certifications-honestbody

Certifications demonstrate your company’s appreciation and support of constant education and knowledge building. Every industry goes through changes and it’s important to stay up-to-date and current with classes, conferences, and webinars. Investing in your employees’ industry knowledge is also a plus.

6. Develop Your Own Voice

Developing the voice of your brand in an interesting and relatable way is vital in order to connect you to your target audience.

Your corporate branding should have a personality and it can be derived from your business’s mission, vision, and values. Your brand’s voice should be implemented on your website content, social media, and customer service efforts.

VetPowered’s website is a great example of a brand with a voice. (Yes, that tone follows you around the whole website.)

vetpowered-tone

7. Take Advantage of Email Marketing

Email marketing is a great way to create initial trust and continue to build that trust over time. Providing your audience with industry information, business updates, coupons, and advice through email shows you truly care about providing solutions to your audience.

There are four types of emails that build loyalty, according to Constant Contact:

  • A compelling, friendly, and engaging welcome email.
  • The useful, informative auto-responder series.
  • A check-in and feedback request email.
  • An email offering an exclusive benefit.

It’s that easy!

The Takeaway

Building trust with your audience starts before you ever come into contact with them. People judge brands based on their research and how they connect with a company’s website and social media content, so it’s important to find a voice for your brand to build that trust.

With great website design and content, companies are building loyal customer bases. Share your work, results, and awards to be as transparent and honest with your audience, and trust will soon follow.

searchenginejournal

Chasing social media shares harms public trust in science – so stop it

There is no substantive evidence that Instagram use is connected with depression. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Last month US TV channel CNBC published an online news story based on a study which it said showed that Instagram is “most likely to cause young people to feel depressed and lonely” out of the major social apps. But the “study” is actually a survey which fails to provide substantive evidence that Instagram is the worst for mental health, or that there is even a relationship between social media use and depression or loneliness. It was another enticing – but misleading – headline.

Over the next days the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), which published the report in conjunction with the Young Health Movement charity, retweeted and shared news stories like CNBC’s. The society’s report was featured by most national media outlets, and although some pointed out that it was based on a survey, others presented it in a way that could be construed as scientific research. In any case, most included a statement about Instagram being damaging to mental health in the title in a way that made the findings appear more conclusive than the report suggests.

But there are problems with treating a survey as a scientific study given the differences in methodology, even if it is based on nearly 1,500 responses. Researchers have pointed out the important differences in measures and analyses. They also noted that the report also contains unfounded statements – for instance, the research article given as a reference for the claim that social media is more addictive than smoking only examined “media use”, not social media use.

The report’s findings are based on young people’s answers to 14 self-designed questions about how different social media platforms affect their lives. The answers are then summed to create a “mental health ranking” of the various platforms. You cannot truly measure the mental health impact of a social media platform by adding together people’s answers to single questions about how specific sites give them “FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out – feeling you need to stay connected because you are worried things could be happening without you)” or affect their “self-identity” or “sleep”.

Instead, to show mental health impact you need long-term studies that measure mental health with tried-and-tested measures or which examine real-life health outcomes like incidences of diagnosed depression. Combining responses to 14 freely-designed questions to measure health outcomes doesn’t yield meaningful results. It goes against the most basic scientific practice taught to undergraduate psychologists and trainee medics.

While the report is intended to be a call for action to stimulate further, more rigorous research, the way in which it was covered by the media could be misleading for the general public. The problem is that it’s the exciting, shareable headlines which seem to get all the media coverage, even when they are not based on peer-reviewed work.

While I do agree with many of the suggestions put forward in the RSPH report, I think it’s important that the public understand the difference between a survey and research based on scientific methods of inquiry. Psychological researchers are working hard to make their science more robust through transparency initiatives like the pre-registration of scientific research. But if the public keep reading contradictory headlines based on weak research in the media, it won’t be easy to maintain trust in our discipline.

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[“Source-theguardian”]

Hierarchy of Trust: The 5 Experiential Levels of Commitment

In creating transactional web experiences, designers are under constant pressure to reduce friction to conversion, drive people to the next step in the funnel, and collect user information as early as possible.

But demands must meet users’ trust needs. It’s too easy to forget the user’s perspective. A useful exercise is to imagine yourself asking a stranger on the street for increasingly big favors. What steps would you need to go through to overcome initial skepticism and build trust before you demand contact information or money? Skip those steps and the person would walk away — or, on the web, leave the site and try somewhere else.

The Pyramid of Trust

Back in the 1940s, Abraham Maslow proposed his famous hierarchy of needs. He asserted that individuals must have basic needs such as food and safety covered before they will move on to desire higher needs like love, esteem, or self-actualization.

Much like Maslow’s pyramid of needs, we can define a pyramid of trust. In relationships (whether between two people or between a site and a user), individuals must have basic trust needs met before being able to progress to more substantial interactions.

Establishing trust, whether with a stranger or with a website, is gradual: as the relationship progresses, skepticism is overcome, the comfort level increases, and new demands can be made. The relationship evolves through different stages of commitment, each built on top of the previous ones. Higher levels of commitment cannot be attained before the lower ones.

Site–user relationships progress through the following 5 levels of commitment, starting from the bottom, where each higher level requires all lower levels to be satisfied:

Five experiential levels of commitment shown on the pyramid of trust
Site–user relationships progress through the 5 experiential levels of commitment.

To stretch the pyramid metaphor, new visitors to your site start out standing in the sand (labeled “no trust established yet” in the chart) and that’s where they’ll remain unless you induce them to climb.

At each level of commitment, people have different needs. Once these needs are met in a satisfactory way, users will be more likely to trust your site, honor your demands, and progress to the next level.

Levels of Commitment Users’ Trust Needs
  1. Baseline relevance and trust that needs can be met
Could this site help me accomplish my goal? Is it credible and can I depend on this information? Does it seem to have my best interests at heart?
  1. Interest and preference over other options
Do I choose to use this site for this task? Is it better than other options?
  1. Trust with personal information
Is this site’s offering valuable enough to justify the time and effort to register? Do I trust the site with my personal information? Do I want emails from this company?
  1. Trust with sensitive/financial information
Do I trust this site to securely use and store my sensitive data (e.g. credit card, street address)? Is it worth the risk?
  1. Willingness to commit to an ongoing relationship
Am I comfortable enough to establish a continuous connection with this site (e.g., recurring charge, linking with other accounts)?

These needs aren’t always explicitly articulated; most users aren’t even aware of their doubts at each stage. (This is why you can’t research these issues by simply asking for user feedback. You have to observe actual behavior.) In the beginning, skepticism is strong by default. While this skepticism can sometimes be overcome with the help of external factors such as word-of-mouth recommendations or reviews, the site itself must also work to gain users’ trust by smoothly fulfilling users’ needs at all levels of commitment.

Balance Site’s Demands and Users’ Trust Needs

The more information or effort a site asks for, the more trust and comfort the user must have. In our rush to collect and convert, it’s so tempting to skip ahead. But, as a result, users get put off and abandon the site because it has been too presumptuous and hasn’t yet covered the basic levels of commitment.

The site’s requests and the users’ trust needs must be in equilibrium: Don’t make demands at higher levels of commitment until you’ve addressed all the trust needs at the inferior levels.

Think about how login walls often stop users. Imagine asking complete strangers for their full name and phone number. You better have established comfort, interest and trust. Websites that require login before users get a chance to figure out what the site is about skip straight to level 3. Needs from levels 1 & 2 haven’t been addressed yet. Could this site have something I’m looking for? Does it seem to have my best interests at heart? Is it better than other options? Sites must address these concerns outside the login walls. For example, a descriptive tagline, depictions of how other people vouch for the site (e.g., social proof) or well-chosen representative images can reassure users and help them bridge over levels 1 and 2. If users don’t already know about your site, there is enormous pressure on this content to address several levels of doubt.

Thredup.com homepage with modal overlay
Thredup.com: ‘My email? My Facebook account? You’re way ahead of yourself, Threadup.com. We just met. Who are you?’ This login wall is a modal window that cannot be closed; it remains in a fixed position even when scrolling. The overlay covers up the tagline, navigation categories, and product images. Without those reassurances, many users will not be willing to give up their personal information.
The pyramid of trust for Thredup.com shows where the site assumes users are compared to where they actually are.
In the current Thredup.com design, prospective users are still at level 0 (no trust established yet). But the forced registration via email assumes people are ready for a level-3 request (trust with personal information). The options to login with Facebook or Amazon are even more presumptuous than registering through email, because connecting to an existing account is a level 5-request (it requires willingness to commit to an ongoing relationship). The site would be more persuasive if it gave people a chance to decide whether it meets their level-1 needs for baseline trust.
Nextdoor.com homepage with form asking for street address and email
Nextdoor.com: ‘Hi stranger, my name’s Nextdoor. I’ll tell you about myself in a minute, but first, what’s your full home address and email?’ This site relies on a landing page to convince users to jump straight to level 4. It’s helpful that they have a tagline next to the logo, and a little social proof (’90,000 neighborhoods’), but it’s still a big ask.
The pyramid of trust for Nextdoor.com shows where the site assumes users are compared to where they actually are.
Potential users on Nextdoor.com are still at level 1. By requiring a full street address and email, the site assumes people are ready for a level 4 request. Instead, the site could let users search by postal code, so that they can see if their neighborhood is included, and therefore decide if its worth joining (level 2: interest and preference over other options).

Creating barriers that lock users out breaks another tenet of usability: People trust sites that make them feel in control. Sites and applications that allow users to explore on their own, to browse or search freely, to easily try something out and go back if they didn’t like it, all give people a sense of agency, and with it, greater confidence in the system.

Summary: To Persuade Users, Build Trust and Comfort Appropriate to Each Ask

The levels of commitment start from the very first interactions. Without building an appropriate foundation, level by level, further efforts to persuade or convert are on shaky ground and you’re left standing in the sand below the pyramid of trust.

 

[Source:- NNgroup]