Designing for Credibility

Design is an essential part of every online marketing campaign. I’m not here to tell you that changing the colour of your font will double your sales overnight; however, well thought out web design could just make all the difference to your credibility, which will in turn have a positive influence on sales. Imagine this scenario:

You want to order a bespoke cake for your pug’s birthday (obviously). A search brings up Website A and Website B. Both offer a wide variety of styles and flavours, gift-wrapping and next-day delivery – all at very similar prices. However, Website A is dated in design, inconsistent in its use of colours and fonts, crammed with adverts and confusing in layout, while website B looks modern and professional and is very easy to navigate. Even though you know there is no difference between the end products, your experience with Website B is much more positive, which is ultimately what tips the scales in their favour.

According to a US study of over 1,400 web users, the 5 most important factors in establishing credibility online are ‘real-world feel’, ‘ease of use’, ‘expertise’, ‘trustworthiness’ and ‘tailoring’. Of course there is no formula for good web design, and it varies across markets, but you can bet Website B has most of the following web design elements:

  • A map of the business location (real-world feel)
  • Main navigation bar at the top; secondary navigation in the footer (ease of use)
  • FAQ section (expertise)
  • Customer reviews or testimonials (trustworthiness)
  • ‘Recently viewed’ and ‘You might also like…’ product suggestions (tailoring)

Meanwhile, the 2 most damaging factors were ‘commercial implications’ and ‘amateurism’. In the case of Website A, the user was bombarded with commercial messages, while the inconsistent use of colours and fonts made the website look amateurish. If the company took so little care over their website, why would you trust them to bake you a beautiful cake?

Web design isn’t about adding flourishes; it’s about establishing credibility. The convenience of online shopping, not to mention the sheer amount of choice available, means that most of your visitors will compare your offering to that of your competitors before making a final purchase decision. Only with great design will you make that all-important first impression that ensures that yours is the one they choose.