January 21, 2009
Summary: Want someone to purchase your terrific product or service? In addition to the quality of what you sell, offer them a trustworthy web site, too.
Have you ever visited a web site and been attacked by screaming pop-up ads, gotten lost in a clutter of banner ads, had things flash and go boom? And have you ever visited a site that was informative, easy to navigate and generally pleasant to peruse?
Which site gained your trust? Which site would you revisit? The more user-friendly building tools you use on your site, the more trust will be developed with your viewers. With this in mind, here are expert tips for making your online store trustworthy…
- Purchase an appropriate domain name Paying for your own domain name builds trust and is professional looking. Your own domain name will be – free of all advertisements (except products you sell or recommend). You want to sell your visitors on the content of your site – not the products of other advertisers.
- Use your domain name email addresses When searching for a host for your site, look for packages that include POP3 accounts and NOT alias accounts. This will enable you to send email from your site (email@example.com), which looks much more professional than firstname.lastname@example.org. It is easier to trust someone who has evidently made an investment in his or her business.
- Include contact information Provide phone numbers, hours of operation (including time zone), a business mailing address and an email address. PO Boxes are not considered addresses. Many companies won’t deliver to PO Boxes, and many visitors won’t purchase from you if you use one. Work from home? Add a suite or building number to your home/apartment. Or use a mail forwarding service for a real address.
- Add contact links Place at least one way for your visitors to contact you on each page and place your Webmaster’s contact information on at least the bottom of the front page. This way your visitors can request information from you, and if there is a problem with your site, they can write to the Webmaster. Even if you and the Webmaster are the same person, place the Webmaster’s email address on the site.
- Watch your dates. People prefer to see a current copyright date on the bottom of sites. Some web sites also carry a “last updated” dates. Are your dates current?
- Include a personal touch Provide an “About Me/Us” page. Provide the names of the owner, president, executives, and staff on the contact page. Include individual and group pictures, small biographies if relevant, and email addresses where they can be quickly contacted. Don’t make it look as though your site’s owners want to be anonymous, which obviously generates suspicions.
- Avoid “enter”, “enter here” and splash screens Do you have an “Enter page” or splash screen on the front of your site? If so, delete it now! You will lose visitors who want information quickly because they’ll go to a rival site instead. Worse than an enter page is an enter page that forces someone to download a program such as Flash. If you want to use the option of Flash pages, fancy pointers etc., give visitors the option of
viewing them. Don’t force them to download any programs.
- Cater to everyone Include alt = ” ” tags with your images to assist those with sight disabilities and the hundreds of thousands of people all over the world who use library-based text-only computer software and Web
- Make it quick Ensure that your pages load in less then 20 seconds with a 56K modem and 7 seconds using DSL. Most visitors will not have the patience to stick around much longer than that and will simply move on. A site that loads quickly and is neatly designed, will show that you are a professional company. It will also boost confidence in your potential buyers.
- Get recommendations Ask your clients for testimonials and permission to use their whole name on your Web site. If they don’t feel comfortable doing so, find others who will.
- Link it Make sure that all the links within your site or to other web sites are working. Download a links checker and use it monthly. Sometimes you’ll find that you’ve linked within your site to a page you’ve moved
or removed. Other times you’ll find that pages outside your site have disappeared or are changed. Ask your Web Designer to design an interesting “error” page that will allow your visitors to get back on track if a page they bookmarked no longer exists.
- Spell it right If you want your site to be as professional as it can be, put each page through a spell checker or hire an excellent proof reader. Don’t underestimate the value of a properly spelled site.
- Secure purchases The best sites provide the most secure purchase program available. This includes a secure server, secure gateway, and information that informs you that your purchase is as secure as is currently possible. Make sure you offer your customers secure purchases. If you don’t they will (and should) shop elsewhere.
- Don’t clutter the site. Use lots of white space to “break” up the text. It’s easier on the eyes that way. The only place to NOT use lots of white space is on the top of your pages.
- Watch your fonts. Save the fancy font types for special items or graphics. Arial and Veranda work well on sites, Times Roman does not.
- Drop it Eliminate the pop-ups, pop-unders, banners that wave or go blinkity-blink all the time.
- View it Ask people to go to your site. Now without scrolling, ask them how they know what your business is about. If they can’t figure it out, fix this.
Maria Marsala. As founder of Elevating Your Business, Maria helps professional service CEOs, presidents, practitioners and executives build better companies as they increase sales, improve productivity and work smarter. Receive MORE Business ezine and your free business tools at ElevatingYourBusiness.com