You need to form a relationship with your audience so that your site's traffic will grow and benefit your business.
Web sites succeed when they demonstrate their trustworthiness to their visitors. The process of establishing trust begins when you first start planning a site, and continues as an integral part of the ongoing job of running the site.
A web site that visitors can trust has the following:
The web-surfing population represents a spectrum of skepticism. Some will come to your site with preconceived notions and be wary of everything about it no matter what you do. Others will look past the inconsistencies and omissions that feed the skeptics and blithely conduct business with a site based on the recommendation of a friend or other trusted source. Your site should welcome both types of usersand everyone in betweenbut you'll have to work harder to satisfy the die-hard doubters.
When visiting your site, web surfers can't look you in the eye to gauge your integrity, or kick the proverbial "tires" of your products to determine their quality. Their assessment of you and your site's credibility will be derived from your ability to present a professional-looking site where people will feel comfortable doing business.
Trust-building should be part of your web site from day one, when you start to make decisions about design and navigation and compile content. Inconsistency can breed mistrust, so strive to make every page on your site share the same look and feel. The navigation should occupy a constant location on all pages, and the logo you use should match the one visitors see offline. Likewise, proofread your copy to get rid of all grammatical errors and misspellings. When you neglect these small detailslike using proper punctuationvisitors are more likely to assume you can't handle the bigger details, like getting their order right.
In the day-to-day tasks that come along with running your site, you need to make a priority of eliminating problems that will challenge your visitors' ability to trust you. Surf your own site regularly to test links and forms, and uncover and correct any stumbling blocks before they start to drag on your online business. Optimize graphics and code to make sure that pages load quickly.
If necessary, contact your web hosting provider about upgrading your account to one that can handle more traffic. Make sure you have a well-written and useful general error page that can head off visitor confusion (doubt's cousin) when something goes wrong.
Finally, you should consider adding some of the following components to your site as they apply to the nature of your online business. Although leaving them out won't necessarily detract from your site's credibility, having them can help strengthen the trusting relationship you seek to form with your visitors.
Security and privacy are further discussed in Recipes 6.1, 8.4, and 8.5. For more information on improving page load time and error messages, see Recipes 4.8, 5.1, and 9.1.