Essential tips on how to build trust online and turn visitors into enquiries

Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

Your website is the shop window for your business. It's a crucial first impression and will determine whether people hire you.

With this in mind, it's vital to have a site that turns visitors into paying customers. But how do you achieve this? With trust. You have to make people trust you. Otherwise, they'll go elsewhere.

Remember the last time you were searching for something bespoke to buy online? And how you found and researched at least five or six different websites before choosing the one you liked? Like everyone else, you went through a logical process of finding a brand you could trust. You judged on various factors such as web design, navigation and ease of browsing. If something didn't look or feel right, you moved on.

So if 'trust' is so important, how do you make sure people trust you and your website? The following 20 tips will help you win people over.

1. Get your design right

The layout and design of your website is probably the first thing you should tackle when building trust online. If your website has a poor design, people will think you sell 'naff' products or services. Frankly, a cheap website will make you look, well, cheap. So invest in getting a quality web design.

If you can't afford to have something bespoke, consider purchasing a Wordpress theme from somewhere like ThemeForest.net, or use a tool like Squarespace to get going. Remember, the design can make or break you so ensure you provide something clean, slick and inviting.

2. Provide easy navigation

People can get irritated with websites if they don't have logical navigation. Poor navigation puts people off and leaves them confused. Pull together all your content and organise everything, so people don't have to second-guess.

Make it as easy as possible for people to find what they're looking for. Include links to your 'Contact' page throughout your entire website. Make the user experience a pleasure rather than a hindrance.

3. Get your copy right

Your website copy is so incredibly important. It's a chance to put across your key messages and entice visitors to dig deeper. If your copy is sloppy with poor spelling and grammar, then people will question your credibility. What's more, if you've provided too much copy, you might overwhelm people, forcing them to bounce off. If in doubt, hire a professional copywriter to draft your website's copy. It will be money well spent.

4. Use bespoke, quality photography

One of the biggest mistakes people make with their websites is to include poor photography or stock images that are used by other brands online. Hire a decent photographer and get some bespoke, quality shots of your company and your products. It will instantly build trust.

5. Have fast page loading

There is nothing more frustrating than finding a website that is slow or has sections that have the 'dreaded wheel of doom', telling you something is loading up. Make your website as fast as possible. You only have one chance to win over your visitors, so give them no reason to get bored and go elsewhere.

6. Add testimonials

Nothing beats word-of-mouth recommendation to add credibility and build trust on your website. Add customer testimonials on your home page and include a separate section if you can. You should even include endorsements alongside projects or portfolio items to add another stamp of approval. Make this a top priority when designing or tweaking your website.

7. Include an About page

Everyone wants to know who's behind the logo, so make sure you include an 'About' page to tell people about who you are and what you do. Use this section wisely to build trust and talk about your skills and experience. Include a little 'history' about your business and tell people your company values and ethos. Whatever you do, be open and transparent. People will love you for it.

8. Mention any awards or accreditations

If you've won any awards or have industry recognition, you should include the details on your website. Don't be afraid to 'big yourself up' and show off your achievements.

9. Add a 'team' or 'individual' photo

Adding a face to your company's name is very powerful. By including a photograph of yourself or your team, you help build a connection or rapport between you and your potential customers.

10. Publish a blog

A blog is an opportunity to build trust with prospective clients. It's a chance to show the 'real' you and talk about your products and services. A blog adds a voice to your business and will show people more about who you are. Include the facility for people to add comments so they can directly communicate with you. If you haven't got a blog, add one now.

12. Get social

If you're not on Twitter or Facebook, where have you been? Social media has had a huge impact on the way we shop, find love and do business – it's all online these days. Because of the web, people expect trusted brands to move with the times and be available online, especially on platforms like Twitter. Create an account if you haven't already and start talking directly to potential customers. Include social media icon buttons on your website to show people that you're active on social media. You could even include a live Twitter feed somewhere on your home page to build further trust.

13. Limit advertising where possible

Nothing screams 'spam' more than a website covered with adverts. That's whether you're using AdSense or some other affiliate programme. If you really must include advertising to make a little extra cash on the side, limit your adverts, so they don't dominate your website.

14. Keep your website fresh

Websites that have dated content will put people off. Keep it fresh by adding new work to your portfolio whenever you can and ensure your blog is kept updated. Don't let your website become stale. Show potential customers that you're active. It will give the perception that you're an efficient and dependable business.

15. Show off your reputation

Don't ever underestimate the power of an 'As Seen In...' on a website. It's an opportunity for you to show prospective clients that your business has been featured in newspapers, magazines or online publications. For example, 'Creative Boom... As Seen In The Independent, The Guardian and Computer Arts'. It builds trust and is living proof that you're a brand people should be associated with.

16. Get visibility

People do trust brands or businesses that perform strongly in the Search Engine Results Pages, so make sure you carry out some Search Engine Optimisation on your website. List yourself in directories, get yourself mentioned in influential blogs, sponsor events or awards. Do whatever you can to become visible. The very presence of your website will build trust. Plus the more positive exposure you gain, the better.

17. Satisfy every potential question or need

When looking through the content on your website, consider whether you have satisfied every potential question that customers might ask. Provide a helpful 'FAQ' page if you think it's necessary. It will satisfy their needs and give that crucial reassurance.

18. Provide security

If you're selling products through your website, add a sense of security to build trust. It means getting a private SSL Certificate and adding words like 'Your purchase is 100% safe and secure'. You could even consider signing up to any accreditation schemes that show customers they're safe to use their credit card with you.

19. Communicate quickly and effectively

To build further trust, respond quickly to any questions, enquiries or tweets. Remember, if someone has contacted you after browsing through your website, it means you're doing everything right. It's now up to you to 'seal the deal'.

20. Serve your customers well

Finally, if you work hard to keep your customers happy, you will build trust online. People might recommend you to friends on Twitter or Facebook. They might comment on a blog post you've written and thanked you for your time. Nothing builds trust more than doing a great job for all your existing clients and seeing the benefits come round full circle.