Does Your Website Communicate Trustworthiness?

You may have noticed that the Hanlon site undergoes regular sprucing up. Standards and best practices evolve rapidly on the web, and we make it a priority to stay abreast of the changing landscape.

“Trust is built slowly and lost quickly, so avoid shortcuts and tricks.”

It’s not easy to build a great website. It takes planning, coordination, and financial resources, and if you aren’t selling anything directly from your site, it can seem like all that effort is bringing you little in return. But make no mistake, the look, feel, and functionality of your website are all critical to your success and longevity.

As an oft repeated study indicates, users form lasting opinions about a website in under a second! And as the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. If the navigation is broken, the color scheme inconsistent, or the design antiquated, you can expect your bounce rate to climb as users quickly size you up, and just as quickly decide to leave.


But, when your site is neatly organized, a pleasure to use, and visually appealing you not only increase your chance of keeping visitors, you begin the process of building their trust in you.

A badly designed or neglected website on the other hand, is analogous to a physical storefront with letters missing from the sign and cigarette butts littering the threshold. It tells people immediately that something is off. If you are unable to instill confidence in potential customers before they even walk through the “front door,” then they are likely to look elsewhere. And with your biggest competitor just a click away, making a good first impression is essential.

Building Trust

While the minutiae of modern web design is a moving target, certain design principles stand the test of time. Technological progress is made, trends and fads come and go, but human nature moves much more slowly. As is often the case, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, but there are some guidelines you can follow to get a head start on your competition. Ultimately, what path you choose depends on the specific character of your brand or company: the form should match the function.

Below are the 4 main ways your website can communicate trust as outlined by noted usability consultant Jakob Nielsen:

  1. Design Quality refers to things like your organizational scheme, navigational tools, use of color, imagery, and white space, and the quality of your copy. When everything comes together perfectly the user experience is intuitive and pleasurable. When it doesn’t, users become frustrated and lose faith in you. Every broken link and typo chips away at your credibility.
  2. Up-Front Disclosure means not hiding anything and not playing games with people’s time or money. No one wants to click through a dozen pages before finding out a piece of information that should have been mentioned from the start. Hiding things like basic product or service details, base cost, shipping fees, minimum purchase, return policy, guarantees, etc. only end up turning off visitors and shoppers.
  3. Comprehensive and Current Content is fairly straightforward, it’s nothing more or less than content that is valuable to your visitors. That could be photos of your product, helpful tips for how to use your service, or industry news that visitors would find relevant.
  4. Connection to the Rest of the Web is important because no website exists in a vacuum. Even sites like Facebook that use a “walled garden” approach that attempts to dissuade users from leaving still trade heavily in outside content and connections. A trustworthy site works with third-party reviewers, social media networks, and media channels to be a part of the broader web.

Trust is built slowly and lost quickly, so avoid shortcuts and tricks. Treat your visitors honestly and faithfully and they will respond in kind. Well designed sites that don’t hide anything and offer engaging and worthwhile experiences are the foundation for building trust and forming long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships.

Is it time to upgrade your website? Talk to us about our Digital Experience services today.