Guest Post – 7 Things Cautious Customers Will Clock on Your Website

A guest post from Gareth Simpson. Gareth Simpson is an SEO expert with over a decade of experience working in the web industry. He hopes to share his knowledge to help other entrepreneurs and small businesses reach success. Visit his site at garethsimpson.co.uk

No matter how good your website already is, there are probably elements that could be improved. Today’s users are both discerning and impatient, and while it’s impossible to perfectly satisfy everyone, there are certain indicators on a website that will either build trust – or break it. Here are seven elements of building a website that you should consider if you want to build sustainable business and customer relationships online.

Ease of use

The internet is a treasure trove of information just waiting to be discovered, so when someone has a question, they usually just ask Google. One of its perks is that it takes up very little time. However, if your website is structured in a way that makes it hard for people to find what they’re looking for, then that perk is suddenly diminished. This is why it’s so important to have logical navigation to help users around your site. An unhappy user is a potentially lost sales opportunity.

  • Optimisation and testing are useful ways to discover how users are behaving on your site, allowing you to make adjustments accordingly
  • Customers appreciate a process that is easy to follow when shopping online. Ecommerce stores should add robust layering and filtering functionality so customers can categorise items into what’s relevant for their search. A separate search bar is also important, in case they struggle to find what they want through sorting or happen to know exactly what they want from the outset
  • Review your site’s analytics on a regular basis to analyse how easy (or not) people are finding it to use your site

Typos

This one should be obvious, and yet there are still so many sites that fall into this trap. Poor spelling and grammar look deeply unprofessional. And with this perceived lack of professionalism comes lack of trust.

  • Typos are easily rectified with a good proofread, so having a site littered with them speaks of a website or online business that was hastily put together, with little care. Hire a writer to create content for you, or an editor to proofread your content. You could also try using a spellchecker tool like Grammarly to catch out any glaring errors
  • Content that is copied straight over from a manufacturer often doesn’t read well and could get you into SEO trouble for duplicate content – always go unique over generic

Hidden charges

Hidden charges are really nasty – they make people feel cheated. A top priority on your website should be transparency. It all comes down to trust.

  • In ecommerce, one of the top reasons for customers abandoning shopping carts is being surprised by last minute high shipping fees. Give users a good idea early on of how much shipping will come to, so they don’t encounter any nasty surprises after going to the effort of visiting your site and filling in their details. Or even better, offer free shipping
  • If there are any other fees that customers should be aware of, such as credit card fees or return shipping costs, make this very clear so they don’t feel they’ve been had later on
  • This goes for B2B companies too. B2B sites should offer clear product or service prices, or include a ‘get a quote’ CTA button on these pages
  • Don’t try to ‘hard sell’ and mislead users about the services you offer — honesty is the best policy

Absent customer service

Sometimes, customers will want to contact you. If there is a specific question that isn’t answered on the website, they will search for contact details, and if none are provided, well – that’s when people start to feel suspicious. What kind of an operation is this?

  • Don’t make your customers trawl through your site in search of your contact details. Display them clearly throughout the site or in the footer, so they can get in touch if needed
  • Think about whether a chatbot would also be an option for your store – they can increase engagement and conversions
  • Be present on social media channels, ready to respond to any burning questions customers may have. Social media is one of the fastest growing methods that customers use to get in touch with companies online, so make sure someone is monitoring your mentions

Appearance

They say never judge a book by its cover, but people do and they always will. How your site looks is the single most important contributor to how you are perceived by the public. This is important because people won’t interact with a website they don’t trust.

  • Websites need to be sleek, professional, and be easy to navigate, otherwise users won’t stay long. It also won’t leave a good impression on your users, so it’s unlikely they will return in a hurry. If you need a helping hand then invest in a website developer to build the perfect website
  • The same is true for online stores. Would you buy something from a website that looked like it had been thrown together haphazardly? Is that a place you want to trust with your credit card details? It’s essential to take your time to build a nice-looking store that appears trustworthy. A plugin, like the popular Shopify buy button, may be a good option if you’re running a small operation for now
  • Don’t forget to consider the SEO implications of web design and development choices — here’s how a charity website may want to approach their SEO strategy
  • If you go custom – make sure you get to sign off on any designs with your web agency and make sure you have an idea of final build price before the project kicks off

Distractions

That’s right. I’m talking pop-ups and autosound. Let’s start with pop-ups.

  • Pop-ups are an old school advertising technique, and they’re just as annoying now as when they first invaded our screens. Maybe more so, as today’s audience is exceptionally intolerant. In-your-face pop-ups distract your visitors from the purpose of your site and disrupt their user experience – which is not what you want. Is it? If you choose to advertise on your website, try to keep the adverts as subtle and unobtrusive as possible, and use them in moderation
  • Autosound is just plain rude. You’ve probably experienced it for yourself. When you land on a webpage and sound starts playing automatically, it catches you off guard, it’s distracting, and if you can’t immediately work out how to turn it off, many users will simply click off the page. Then it’s game over – you’ve lost a user

Generic imagery

Cheesy stock imagery has become so renowned for its overuse and inauthenticity that Adobe used it to launch a range of ironic t-shirts. The importance of using quality imagery on your site, especially if you are attempting to sell something, cannot be overstated. It is everything.

The problem with using certain types of stock imagery is that people know it’s not real. Women don’t laugh when they eat salad. Call centre workers rarely look happy. That graph doesn’t have an axis. When the imagery on your site is clearly not an accurate representation of who you are, one has to ask – what else is not as it seems?

For stunning stock imagery that doesn’t suck, try one of these 10 free resources.

Websites that take the time to optimise their user experience and build trust will be rewarded with loyal users, higher conversions, and lower bounce rates. What aspects of other websites do you find off putting? Have you had any similar learning experiences with your own site? Share in the comments below.

    Gareth Simpson – Technical SEO & Startup Founder

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