How many websites do you visit on an average day? Tens? Hundreds? And how many of those visits last mere seconds? You run a Google search, open up various tabs, and breeze through them at a rapid clip until you have one or two that seem worth your time. Notably, what makes a given site warrant your full attention isn’t just its evident value: it’s also how you feel about it, because the fundamental wariness of the savvy internet searcher pushes you to be cautious.
What’s more, that caution will typically increase the longer you remain on a site. There are plenty of sites out there that just want to exploit you: gather and sell your personal data, sell you misrepresented products, charge you excessively, or even infect your computer or smartphone with a virus before using it to blackmail you. If you’re not careful, you’ll run into trouble.
When you’re running a website, then, you need to be aware of the urgent need to make your visitors comfortable. Those who’ve used your site before will know to trust it, but others will be on the lookout for reasons to leave. So how do you engender visitor comfort? In this post, we’re going to look at four tactics you can use. Let’s get to them.
Provide free resources
Almost every website exists to gather value in some way. E-commerce sites aim to get money for the products they list. Social media sites want to have their content shared. Informational sites can ask for donations — and even if they don’t, they can prove useful for bolstering the reputations of the brands that create and maintain them.
We all understand this, and we don’t hold it against the sites we visit — but we do expect to receive value before we’re asked to provide it. When we encounter sites that cut directly to asking for our money, we become uncomfortable and suspicious. Why are you pushing so hard? What are you trying to hide from me?
This is why a great way to build comfort from the outset is to open with the provision of a free resource. It’s particularly great for sites that deal with important topics like healthcare. For example, someone looking to handle some veterans’ claims might look to use Vet Comp Pen for support, and there’s an immediate popup offering a free report on disability rating.
Is this ideal? No, because popups can be irritating: it would be better to have the resource offer as the hero image. But it’s still a good move on the whole because it makes it instantly clear to the visitor that there’s enough real value on offer that they can get some of it for free.
Display relevant trust seals
Trust seals are the logos and badges you see attesting to relevant membership schemes and security certifications. Consider something like the Verified by Visa scheme for VisaNet transactions, for instance: its inclusion can provide a strong indication to a new visitor that they can trust your site when it comes to financial transactions (and in general, because sketchy sites don’t tend to care).
Can sites that don’t care about being deceitful simply include these badges anyway? Of course, that’s a possibility — but it isn’t the trust seal itself that matters. It’s the verification to which it links. Each trust seal should be clickable and lead to clear proof of its validity. Not everyone will know to check, but many people will hover their cursors over the badges to confirm that they do actually lead to relevant URLs and aren’t solely copied images.
Optimize your website design
Even if the content of a website seems to be alright, you can want to leave because of its design. This can be due to a lack of responsiveness: if you’re browsing the internet on your smartphone and you come across a website that renders in a desktop-oriented way, it’ll give you a very negative impression of the company responsible.
If a modern business doesn’t know how important it is to make a website responsive, how can you trust it to be competent in any other areas? That alone might push you to go elsewhere. Another possibility is that you’ll notice basic mistakes: broken links, missing images, loading issues, buttons that don’t work properly at certain sizes, or even confusing navigation elements.
The easier you make it for someone to use and enjoy your site, the more comfortable they’ll feel sticking around, as it’s a pleasure to browse a website that’s clearly been developed with care.
Show compelling social proof
Lastly, something that’s immensely important for visitor comfort is the presence of compelling social proof attesting to the quality of the site (and the company behind it). Simply seeing that other people (ideally your peers to whatever extent) have chosen to trust the site and had their trust rewarded can be enough to convince you that it’s worth sticking around.
That said, it’s dangerous to have exclusively-positive social proof, because nothing but five-star ratings inevitably makes social proof look fraudulent. What’s important is authenticity. If your website isn’t good enough to pick up some genuine positive reviews, then the first thing you need to do is fix that — and if it is good enough, then you should feature them very prominently on your homepage so they can’t be missed.
Making new visitors to your website comfortable needs to be a top priority for you, because even the slightest amount of discomfort could see them choose to leave before discovering what you have to offer (or being willing to try it). These tips should help.
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