Trust is THE most important currency for those of us who sell services and products mainly on the internet. It is what potential clients need to feel about you, and what you need to engender with their first impression of your website. Stimulating trust is something that is always in my mind when I'm designing sites for solopreneurs, but I may not talk about it enough with my own clients. So I wanted to offer a few pointers here on what damages trust for you to think about deleting from or changing on your website, if I haven't already done so. Of course some of these pointers are subjective, and may reflective a good bit of my own skeptical nature. Feel free to take what I say with a grain of pink Himalayan salt.
Seven Website Things that Damage Trust
1. Lack of contact details on the homepage. It may no longer be necessary and is a decreasing feature of website headers to have your photo, address, email and even phone number right up top on your website. More often now this info is contained in the footer, or bottom, of every page. If you don't want to take email contact, you must provide a phone number, and vice versa. If you work from home and don't want your address on the internet, trust points can be maintained by using a post office box or UPS personal mail box address.
2. Lack of current copyright date. A website whose copyright date is missing or years old causes potential clients to wonder if you are still in business. Keep this updated every January. You should be adding new content to your website at least once a month anyway, but even if your blogs show publication dates, not everyone will visit the blog, so updating the website copyright is a good practice.
3. Lack of personal photo. A big trust-buster is the appearance of hiding something about you in your marketing. The more you are asking of potential clients -- such as high fees, baring their souls and sharing their pain, giving you their vote or donation -- the more you absolutely must establish yourself as a real person. So, yep, it is really necessary to get over your camera shyness and at least take a good quality selfie. I think I've written a blog on my advice about how to do that.
4. Lack of photos that simulate your ideal clients. It's unique among psychotherapists to be averse to displaying photos of people that are suggestive of your ideal clients. Although the images of others staring back at you from your website might feel disconcerting or "inappropriate" when relating to it with your therapy-mind, to potential clients those images are reassuring. It conveys to them that working with you will help them feel better. Best of all, the alt tags that are installed with each photo is another opportunity for SEO which should not be dismissed. To my therapist-turned-designer mind, refusing to use photos suggestive of clients is practically malpractice.
5. Too much profession jargon and 3rd person distance. Potential clients are looking to make a personal connection. They want to feel good about you, and have some reason to think that you will relate to their story, plight, or need. Don't talk over their heads in an effort to prove how well educated you are. Don't use the vocabulary that is special to your profession if it's not in the every day "speak" of you audience. Doing so creates discouragement and skepticism, and a resistance to the expectation of being talked down to.
6. Lack of awareness of the visitor's experience of your website. Now, for the most part I take care of this when I build your site. But if you make changes after I'm done, you'll want to double check that everything is working the way it should. Today I almost bought something from a website I was visiting for the first time, but when I clicked the payment button, it gave me screen that was all in Chinese. Not good. That immediately caused me to abandon the cart because my trust was destroyed.
7. Calls to action that rely on urgency, limitation, and over done repetition. Those buy now or lose out approaches are old school advertising tactics that most quality consumers have long ago seen through as signalling a scam. But don't be too wimpy either. Calls to action should be crisp and clear -- read more, call now, get your free copy here. Leave your impulse for Rogerian non-directive stuff in the therapy room.
8. Testimonials that praise you too much. The best testimonials focus on what changed for the client, rather than how kind, smart, cute, and talented you are. The latter just don't sound authentic.
If you'd like a trust review of a website I didn't do for you, I'd be happy to schedule a phone consult.