How to establish trust with your users

Before a user visits your website, they need to know that the experience won’t be a waste of their time. It’s important to earn the trust of your visitors both before and after they visit your website so they’ll keep coming back.

Trust is the assured reliance on the character, strength, ability or truth of someone or something. Trust is what makes us vulnerable. Before a user visits your site, they trust you by believing that your site is going to help them somehow—whether it’s to buy a product, learn something, or for entertainment purposes, they are coming to your website for a reason. They are investing their time. If they don’t find what they’re looking for, or if they aren’t happy with the website, you can guarantee that they won’t be back.

So how do you establish trust with users? First, make sure your website is usable. If a user can’t figure out how to navigate your site, they won’t be able to accomplish their goals. Second, aesthetics do matter. Let’s assume you’re shopping for a backpack. You found two backpacks you like, for the same price, on two different websites. If one website has interesting graphics, a nice easy-to-use layout, and a quick checkout option, while the other has a plain white background with odd formatting, chances are you’ll buy from the first website. Why? Because the first website is more trustworthy.

When it comes to trust, consistency and familiarity are also very important. Everything about the website you build is a promise; from the font, the content, and the layout. Consistency is important because it tells your users what to expect through every step of the process. Unexpected messages or a lack of a confirmation message can throw a user off. If a user is expecting a “thank you for your purchase” message to pop up on their computer after they bought something and it doesn’t show up, it’s going to leave them confused and uncomfortable. Those messages and e-mails confirm their trust in you.

Many of us hesitate when we see websites that ask for a user’s credit card information for a “free” trial of a service or product. We need to know that it’s going to be worth it. Money makes people vulnerable. If you’re selling a product, you need to make sure your user feels comfortable buying it. Are there a lot of pictures of your products? Can a user zoom in? Have you provided measurements, materials, and reviews? Do you accept returns? All these things can build trust.

Effective communication is essential in relationships. Once a user has given you a chance, you need to communicate with them and treat them with respect. The most successful websites use a friendly, conversational tone that’s almost like reading an email. Listening is important too—a user will bash you over social media if you don’t. If they’re extremely unhappy, they’ll write bad reviews wherever they can. Keeping a user’s trust is just as important as earning it.

Get to know your users. Learn from them. Follow through on the promises that your website makes. Take advantage of every single opportunity you have to make it clear to your users that you are worth their investment of time, attention, information, and money. If you can help them accomplish their goals, you’ll both get the return you want.

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