October 20, 2016
Trust Me: Four Things Your Professional Website Must Have to Maintain Trust
No matter your professional service, whether you provide dental solutions to area residents, consult companies on financial matters, or provide legal support to individuals, your professional website gives off a highly valuable first impression. It may either help you expand your list of clients and patients, or it may make any potential partner go back to their chosen search engine and seek out your competitors instead.
There is an element of trust that a website must emit in order for it to be successful and help your company prosper. As a professional service, you know that trust is the key to maintaining positive client relations. Your organization may be staffed with highly professional team members who may be the best in their respective fields. You may have different, more productive methods and ideas than your competitors. However, if your website exhibits an old copyright date, displays blatant typos, or uses poor stock photos, those visiting your website may find it hard to believe that your company is actually composed of a team of professionals. Your website has given off a rather negative first impression, causing clients to lose their trust in your organization.
First impressions are very important in our society. That is why job candidates always put so much thought into their appearance before an interview with a prospective employer. A job candidate knows that his or her resume and skill set is only part of what an employer takes notice of. A job candidate must appear clean, put-together, and professional. They arrive early and have done their research on the company. If they show up to an interview late, looking as if they have just rolled out of bed, it may not matter how prestigious their resume makes them appear. They have lost the trust of their potential employer.
It only takes seconds for a lasting first impression to be made. The same goes for a website. If users aren’t intrigued within 10-20 seconds, they leave and head on to the next site. As with a job candidate, the website must appear both professional and clean. Navigating the website should be easy for its visitors. The copyright date should be current, not something that hasn’t been touched since 2007. Is the information on the website correct and up to date? Can the visitor easily contact any of the professionals they may come across on the website? Are the professionals, your doctors or lawyers, your consultants or financial advisers, even listed on the website, alongside their bios and accomplishments?
Achieving a trustworthy website that will make people stop, read, and hopefully contact you takes time and research. We’ve compiled a list of five of the most important things that any professional services website should have in order to maintain its trustworthiness and credibility:
You want your website to have photos. They add color to your site and give visitors a break from huge blocks of text. In this digital world in which over half of people learn and retain information better visually, readers are actually turned off by a lot of text. They expect pictures. Websites with images get 94% more views than those without, according to a study by marketing expert Jeff Bullas.
With millions of stock images available online, you may think that there are countless options you can use to fit your company’s needs and draw online traffic. However, stock images should never be used on your professional service’s website. Their quality if often poor and the stock photos that are much better in quality and substance are overused because they are so good. For every favorable stock photo, there are probably two or three that should never see the interface of your website. Due to this ratio, the photos that are good are used at every opportunity they can be. You want a visitor to your site to see something new, something that will set you apart from other professional services websites.
Polls have shown that website visitors respond better to photos taken by the company, of the company. About 60% of web goers polled stated that they are more likely to actually reach out to a company for which local search engines display images. Take professional photos of your business, of the offices, its exterior, and the people who work there, and use them on your website.
The visitors to your website want imagery that appears natural and is something that they can relate to. Include photos of people in the images you use, especially photos that may not show the entire subject’s body or face. You want to develop a personal and emotional connection with your potential clients. You want them to imagine themselves partnered with your company. You want them to see themselves in the picture.
An Aesthetically Pleasing, Easy-to-Navigate Design
The visitors to your site want something that is pleasing to look at, for much of the same reason excellent graphics and photos are needed. People are visual learners, perhaps now more than ever because of digital technology. People spend a great deal of their day browsing through different websites and, even if they are not experts in design, understand when a page they are seeing on their computer screen or mobile device is one that is poorly designed. A 2003 study by Stanford University found that the design of a website, including its color scheme, its layout, its use of white space, is the most important element of determining its credibility. If a web site does not look professional, your company won’t either.
Make sure that the color scheme of your site matches the mission your organization is undertaking or the tone you hope the company conveys. However, don’t forget the white space. No one likes clutter. Different banners, boxes, and ads give the perception of clutter and make it hard for the visitor to concentrate on what you want them to read. White space helps break up different pieces of your web page. It makes the page appear cleaner and more professional and puts the focus on what should never be lost, no matter how much design your site undergoes, the content.
Also, what do you want your clients to take away from your organization? Do you want them to appreciate your team of professionals, your low rates, your quality service and care? If your health service offers low prices, show that through your design by emphasizing “budget.” If your law firm handles professional clients from nationally-renowned organizations, give your design a more sophisticated and luxury feel.
However, if a user cannot navigate your website, they probably won’t stick around long enough to read its content, learn about your organization and its services, or appreciate the site’s design. Fonts and links should be easily readable. Page names like “About,” “Contact,” and “Services” should give a clear indication of what the visitor will see when they click on the page’s link. Proofread to ensure that sentences are readable and contain correct spelling and grammar.
Finally, don’t forget about mobile devices. As increasing numbers of internet users make the mobile switch, website designs should follow. A site optimized for mobile should still employ white space, should still be clear and concise, and should still utilize images and colors that most closely match the type of organization you wish to convey to the public. If your website is not optimized for mobile, you’re alienating an entire group of potential clients and patients.
Visitors to a site expect complete transparency. Ensuring that your website has easily accessible and recently updated “About” and “Contact” pages is the first step. In the “About” page, give the history of your company. How long has it been around? The lifespan of a company adds much to its credibility and trustworthiness. If your law firm began as a family practice and grew to include dozens of lawyers, say that. If your medical practice began in one small town and expanded to different locations around the state or country, say so. If your organization is instead just starting out, this should also be broadcasted. This gives your company the perfect chance to introduce yourself and say why the visitor to your site should trust your organization with something as significant as their health or finances.
Client and patient testimonials are also very useful in developing a sense of trust. They give your visitors an idea of the good you can do, in addition to the number of clients you have served. However, potential clients do not only want to know who you served, but also want to get to know you and your company. Personalize your organization by showing pictures of who works there and by giving descriptions of what they do. Allow them to associate names and faces with the company. Sometimes, a company can seem like a large entity or corporation, void of humanizing traits. Let the visitors to your site know that people just like them work there and are willing to help. At times, it appears that humanization has become lost in the technical age. Adding such a personal element to your site will be refreshing to your visitors.
Finally, go social. Make use of the different social media platform that are widely available and frequently used. The amount of followers on Facebook or Twitter that a company has directly correlates with the view of how trustworthy a company is in the eyes of visitors. This idea of “Social Proof” shows that the company is not only established, but it also shows that others trust them. Make sure to add a visible widget to your website that allows visitors to see how many Facebook likes or Twitter followers you have.
However, you must remember to be active on your various social media accounts. Social media can do so many great things for a company, but it must be used to its fullest. Engage your followers by posting news and pictures and by replying to comments and concerns. This allows you to not only be more transparent, but also more approachable. It shows your website visitors that you care about what they say, and also reminds them once more that a person just like them is behind the company or organization.
Updated Copyright Date
As we ring in the new year and make resolutions we probably don’t plan on keeping, one resolution you should hold firm to is updating your website’s copyright date. It’s always a good idea to update your website regularly, and this begins with the small copyright date that appears at the bottom of the site’s web pages.
You may think that something so small, so hidden away from the page’s main content, isn’t something that matters to your website’s visitors. However, it matters a great deal. Some of the first things students are taught in school as they navigate the world of online research is to pay close attention to the copyright date on the articles and websites they use in their school work. This is true outside of the classroom, as well.
While a copyright is made so that the material on your website cannot be infringed upon, if a copyright date is not updated every year, your site’s visitors may assume that you have not updated your webpages with current information. This is detrimental to their trust in you. They have no way of knowing if your contact information is relevant, if certain experts you employ still offer their services, or even if you are still in business at all. If a visitor in 2016 stumbles upon your site and notices a copyright date that is nearly ten years old, they might assume that your company is no longer operational.
This assumption may increase if you fail to update other elements of your web pages, like your company’s information or your employees’ bios. Is your website up to date with any awards it may have received or any clients it may have served? Are the professionals on your website, your doctors, lawyers, and consultants, given up-to-date bios that encapsulate all of their most recent accomplishments, degrees, and certifications?
It is important to ensure that all of the information you disseminate across your web pages is updated and this starts with the copyright date on your site. If your copyright date is old, visitors may find it safe to assume that the rest of your site is too, and will look no further before turning to a competitor.
How KDG Can Help
KDG understands the importance of a great website and the benefits it can bring to your company and its services. We’ve helped numerous professional services gain and maintain the trust of clients through web design for both traditional and mobile platforms. Our team can help your organization develop a trustworthy online presence so that the hard work your own team of professionals does is one thing visitors to your site will be sure of as soon as they arrive. Contact us today to learn more about the tech solutions we provide.
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