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Part Two: How Certain Information Improves Credibility and Retains Web Site Visitors' Interest (So They Won't Click-Off)

by Kim Krause Berg

I think building web sites and dating are similar to one another. Both require skills and research. You want to present your best side. A stupid pickup line will not work for the untrusting and experienced person you run into at the bar, dance floor, salad section of the food store, or the homepage of your website. You can try, of course. However, barstool and web page abandonment may hurt until you learn the art of persuasion (and flirting.)

It boils down to credibility. You have something to sell and you must convince people your product is worthy of their time, money and interest. For your website, you might think that cute picture of you is a hot selling device. You may go so far as to put up a video so you can personally address your website visitors, let them hear your voice, and talk about your area of expertise. However, if they’ve never met or heard of you before, this is kind of, like when someone orders a drink for your table that you didn’t ask for. It’s a little awkward.

...If you made two million dollars last month selling your book online, list the phone number of your accountant, so that non-believers can call to verify your story....

Who are you?

The role of credibility begins the moment someone arrives to your website. Your homepage, and advertisement landing pages, must provide immediate clues that you, your company or your staff are:

  • Experienced
  • Knowledgeable
  • Customer service oriented
  • Attentive
  • Friendly
  • Aware of a site visitor’s needs, desires, task(s)
  • Really, exist

Your Product or Service

Next, it’s time to convince site visitors that you, your company, your products or your services are the correct choice for them. This requires attention to details that might include:

How the features benefit someone? This is not just a listing of features. What do they do? Why do they matter? How do they help improve, fix, heal, adjust, fit, and otherwise make something better, easier, faster, affordable, profitable etc.?

Why are your products parts better than your competition?

How does your service compare to others, and why?

Price comparisons (because you did your homework to save visitors time, and possibly preventing comparison shoppers from leaving to research it themselves)

Excellent customer service



Confidence in quality, ordering, delivery, returns

How Does Your Web Site Portray Credibility?

Building credibility into your user centered website is easy to do when you step away from the design side, the business requirements, corporate list of “must includes” and forget sounding like a salesperson. I like to visualize sitting with website visitors and chatting, while snacking on pretzels and chips. Eating and asking questions is what humans do well.

The most commonly asked questions pertain to credibility and authenticity. Consider providing information for the Doubter, the Cautious, the Newbie, and the I’m-In-A-Hurry and I’m-Here-Because-My-Boss-Sent-Me, people. Provide answers out front, in full view, for fast access, but avoid endlessly blabbing. First, establish trust. Then, take them inside the website to learn more.

Here is a quick, by no means definitive and in no particular order checklist, which you can match up with your online presentation goals. Conversions depend on persuasiveness. Persuasion leans heavily on credibility and authenticity. Believability, engagability, desirability and usability are tossed in here too. This is your opportunity and legitimate excuse to show off by offering information about:

How long your company has existed; display year it or the website was established

How long you have been doing what you do

Where your company is located (for real, because smart consumers will check).

Third-party citations, awards, interviews, press coverage, references made by reputable companies or persons

Press releases; blog posts written about you

Photos of: the office; place of business; people making your products; people using your products; your delivery truck; your gift boxes; your pets, (in some cases, pets sell you better than you do); your desk with three computer monitors on it and cables everywhere (this offers a “gosh, that person is really dedicated! message), and other visuals that provide proof, proof and more proof.

Bios. Your staff counts too.

Testimonials. Because customers count even more.

List your credentials, your expertise, and that of your employees or staff. If you or someone is an “expert”, or respected member of an organization, this is worth noting.

Your resume

Personal information. Do this with care, and based on the kind of website you own. I look for evidence of existence and sometimes a relationship to the field, products, or service. This can tie into passion and the emotional connection with your website visitors.

If you offer columns like Dear Doctor, Dear Expert, and related content, provide proof these people actually exist and have the required qualifications that can be verified (and provide a way to do that.)

Write articles on your topic or invite reputable guest writers. If they agree to write, you must be special.

Put up a blog and write consistently in it. Slacking off sends a warning that you or your company are [fill in countless suspicions here].

All That and the Paring Knife Too?

I like proof. In real-life, I’ll seek out signs that an offer or product is real. For example, I believe that Rachel Ray makes fantastic meals in 7 minutes on her show because she offers the food to her audience, the camera pulls in for a close-up and the person looks ready to faint from taste bud ecstasy. This is proof (or great acting.)

I want to know that the indestructible ball for my dog is really that. Therefore, I need to know what it’s made of, why my Golden Retriever who eats army men toys will want to play with it, and if some company tested it, throw that into your product description too. Pictures of doggie-customers is a major “Aw, So Cute” connection device.

If you made two million dollars last month selling your book online, list the phone number of your accountant, so that non-believers can call to verify your story.

Small businesses, you can most certainly stand up to those big companies that hide behind their fancy logo and stock prices. Enroll your company into verification programs that check for best business practices, online security, and other consumer-oriented verification. Show off those icons.

Try to avoid being coy or evasive with navigation, content or link labels. Experienced website visitors can spot manipulation a mile away. Describe every action they will take, before they take it. This means letting visitors know when they are about to download, read, learn, order, buy, search, call, email, or click on a PDF file.

Credibility adds up with these small details because to your web site visitors, you are likely a complete stranger. They may leave your site, and return to it, because the other site wasn’t so up front or informative. They may love you because you stopped to share some pretzels and chips.

Discuss this in our Forum

About the Author:

Kim Krause Berg offers a variety of web site improvement services, at pleasantly affordable prices, as well as Partnership opportunties with your web design or SEO/M firm. You're welcome to learn how easy it is to work with Kim and her flexible usability services.

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