Web Design

17 Ways to Build Trust with Your Website

Use these 17 tips to build trust with your website. Ensure potential customers that your website is safe, your business is legit, your offer is appealing and customers like your business.

Close-up of a napkin and silverware setting at a restaurant's bar.

Customers often choose a business because of word of mouth. In the online world, though, decisions all start with search and trust.

When searching for a business online, potential customers want to know your website is safe, your business is legit, your products and services are worthwhile and that previous customers were satisfied. Building trust with your website is paramount to online success.

You can start building online trust with honesty and empathy, but you still need to show why your business is trustworthy. Telling isn't enough. Potential customers need proof if they're going to be converted into customers.

In this post, I’m going to share 17 ways to build trust with your website.

1. Don’t Have Any Website Warnings

 Example of website that isn't secure in Google Chrome.

A website with site warnings informs potential customers that your website contains malware, phishing, scams or isn't secure (see image).

Websites that aren't secure lower trust, reduce search engine rankings and hurt business — especially since Safari and Chrome now mark all HTTP sites as “not secure." Domains that use SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encrypt the connection between browsers and websites.

When I conduct a website audit and find clients don’t have an SSL certificate, I either recommend getting a free certificate from Webflow or Squarespace when I redesign their website or getting a free certificate from Let’s Encrypt.

Action Step
To quickly determine if your website is secure, open a browser to see if your domain’s URL begins with https:// and a closed padlock icon next to the URL. You can also use Google Search Console to learn if any security issues threaten the trust of your website.

2. Use a Domain That Accurately Reflects Your Business

Domains are IP (internet protocol) addresses that have been made human-readable. Instead of visitors having to remember a number like 315.912.7.25 to visit a site, they just enter “businessname.com.”

Companies should use a domain that accurately reflects their business. However, if a business is named “Taco Bob,” but the domain isn’t available, choose a close alternative that accurately describes the business like “tacobobatlanta.net” or “tacobobatlanta.com.”

Avoid the following:

  • Use a custom domain (e.g. example.com)
  • Avoid confusing domains (e.g. tacobob.restaurant)
  • Avoid spammy-sounding domains (e.g. 123-r2f.com)
  • Avoid domains that could be potential trademark conflicts (e.g. loneyplanettours.com)

Action Step
Use a registrar like Google Domains. Also, consider registering multiple TLDs (top-level domains) like .org, .net, .us, etc.

3. Make Your Website Aesthetically Pleasing

Just as readers often judge books by their cover, potential customers do the same with websites. In just 50 milliseconds, they’re deciding if they can trust and respect your business.

A website might look and feel untrustworthy if the branding looks cheap. Poor photography, excessive drop shadows and reflections won’t help either.

Action Step
Evaluate the aesthetics of your site and enlist colleagues, test groups and friends for constructive feedback. If you're still unsure about the aesthetics, compare your website to the competition.

4. Aim for Zero Usability Issues

Trustworthy sites have zero or few usability issues. They load quickly. They're responsive. They’re easy to navigate. On the other hand, sites with usability issues might fail Google’s mobile-friendly test, have slow load times, poor structure, broken links, auto-playing videos, excessive pop-ups, etc.

Action Step
Review your site to ensure it doesn't have any usability issues. If you’re unsure how to evaluate your site, study the competition. What do they appear to be doing right, wrong or not doing? If you still need help, it might be time for a website audit.

5. Avoid Spelling and Grammar Mistakes

Typos, misspelled words or poorly worded sentence isn't going to lead to distrust, but it won't help either, especially if it occurs frequently. For example, if the about page often misspells words like "chief" instead of "chef" and uses two spaces after a period instead of one space — the target market might assume the business doesn't care about details.

Action Step
Use tools like Grammarly to spell check and grammar check, but also use an editor for proofreading and copyediting.

6. Include Testimonials

Potential customers want to know what previous customers thought of a business. Testimonials from Google, Facebook, Yelp and other relevant and authoritative sites help to build online trust.

Action Step
Start encouraging — not bribing — customers to rate and review your company on authoritative sites. Add those testimonials throughout your website.

7. Include Recognition

Greyscale logos of several companies.

Showcasing influential companies that have used your products and services or featured your business in an article adds instant legitimacy (see image). Not only does this position a business as trustworthy, but it also signals their success.

Potential customers are also more likely to trust your business if it's been officially recognized by a relevant and authoritative award like the James Beard Foundation Awards, Michelin stars or the Travelers' Choice Award from TripAdvisor (see image). Not only does this position your business as trustworthy, but it also signals your success.

Action Step
Gather logos of influential companies and publications that use or have used or featured your business or gather logos of distinguished awards or certificates to use on your website.. Then, set them to grayscale, so the colors don’t clash with your branding. If you don't have any yet, set SMART goals and begin working toward getting the awards you desire.

8. Include Bios

The Squarespace executive team profiles.

Founder, chef and staff bios that contain brand-matching professional photos and short, friendly introductions connect the faces of a business with its target market. Bios can elicit positive emotions with its audience and cement a business as the preferred choice. How did the business start? How did the founder grow the business? What are the core values?

Action Step
Invite the target market into your story and take them on a compelling journey that shows why you do what you do. Include bios of people who make your business a success like the executive profiles from Squarespace at Ray's (see image).

9. Link to Active Social Media Channels

Businesses with active social media channels can position themselves as authoritative and trustworthy by posting regular, non-offending, compelling content.

Action Step
Brainstorm a list of unique content ideas to share on social media. Then, determine if you can produce the content yourself or need to hire someone. Upwork is a great place to start for hiring freelancers.

10. Show Your Business is Legitimate

Inform potential customers that your website is protected from legal liability with a cookie banner, privacy policy (GDPR, if necessary), terms of service and a copyright notice. Being compliant with internet laws and actively protecting your intellectual property conveys you're a serious business.

Action Step
Consult with an internet business lawyer to learn how to make your website compliant.

11. Show Your Business is Up-to-Date

Ensure the copyright notice (e.g. Copyright © 2020 Simply Bento) that's located in the website footer is the current year and you're not using outdated technology (e.g. Adobe Flash), nor promoting services that are no longer available (e.g. Google+). Also, ensure your phone number, address and holiday hours are up to date.

Action Step
Review each page of your website to ensure each page is accurate, without any 404 pages (i.e. page not found) and the copyright notice is up to date.

12. Avoid Stock Photography

Stock photo of Asian businesspeople lined up and smiling.

Avoid stock photography (see image) of people. Rather, use real photos of customers using your products or services that provides a genuine glimpse inside your business.

Action Step
Take high-quality photos of customers with a modern camera or hire a professional photographer.

13. Include Statistics

Statistics reveal the facts and figures behind the success of a business. Potential customers are attracted to statistics because it gives them a quantifiable reason why a business is trustworthy. McDonald’s did this for years with their slogan, "Billions and Billions Served.”

Action Step
Brainstorm a list of statistics that build online trust and promote your business. Then, shorten the list to the best ones. After that, add the statistics to your homepage and about page.

14. Offer a Guarantee

Potential customers are more willing to trust a business that provides a guarantee because it reduces risk. This is why Costco's return policy is a huge part of its success. Costco guarantees satisfaction on every membership and every product with a full refund. You don't necessarily have to guarantee a full refund. Rather, you could offer a guarantee like "We guarantee you'll love your steak or we'll make it again."

Action Step
Offer a guarantee that builds trust and removes objections.

15. Include Contact Information

Example of professional email (name@company.com).

Contact information builds trust simply by being available. This means phone number, map, directions and hours of operation should be located in obvious locations throughout your website. Contact information that's available and staff who are reachable conveys a readiness to help potential customers succeed and they'll trust you more for that reason.

Action Step
Review your contact information and be sure to use professional email addresses (e.g. name@company.com) instead of free email addresses (e.g. name@gmail.com) for anyone who emails customers (see image).

16. Avoid Excessive Advertisements

Websites should provide value without bombarding and annoying potential customers with excessive advertisements (i.e. pop-ups, banners, third-party ads, etc.). Customers like to browse, they don't like to be sold.

Action Step
Review your analytics and conduct user tests to pinpoint advertisements that aren’t working. Aim for a healthy balance between content and advertisements. Guide visitors to accomplish the goals of your website — not drive them away in the process.

17. Follow White Hat SEO

White hat SEO (search engine optimization) techniques provide website visitors with quality content that's accurate, relevant and well-organized whereas black hat SEO techniques (e.g. keyword stuffing) penalize websites and damage online reputations.

Action Step
Learn more about building trust online with a website audit.

Wrap Up

You just learned 17 ways to build trust with your website. Remember, you can start building trust with honesty and empathy, but you still have to show why your business is trustworthy.

17 Ways to Build Trust with Your Website first appeared on the Bento Sites Blog by Jeff Shibasaki.

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means that if you click a link and make a purchase Bento Sites will earn a very small commission — at no additional cost to you.

Close-up of Jeff Shibasaki.

Jeff Shibasaki

I’m an Atlanta web designer that specializes in website design and development on Webflow and Squarespace.

Get exclusive design and marketing tips.