A website can be made by anyone. Even if you are not a professional website developer like me, it would not be difficult to pay for a do-it-yourself service and begin posting content. With sufficient time and effort, these can be functional and attractive. But is your website trustworthy? That’s a different question.
Long, long ago, one of the things I did as a computer teacher in the classroom was teach students how to evaluate and critique websites in order to determine whether the information they were viewing was credible.
Why is it important?
It depends on your website’s purpose. If it is simply a forum for self-expression, then it may not. If it is intended to drive sales, promote you, your business, your charity, your activism, or serve some other purpose, then its credibility is crucial.
You cannot accomplish any of your website objectives if your website lacks credibility. One of the most important things I tell prospective clients is that we won’t just give them a website that looks good; we’ll also help them have a website that converts their visitors into customers. The nature of this action will vary based on the website’s content, but the most influential factor is the website’s credibility.
What makes a website credible?
This will vary based on your industry and website’s purpose. You would not hire a contractor to work on your website without first learning about their experience and viewing samples of their previous work. A photo gallery enhances credibility, but a current photo gallery is also crucial. Seeing work someone did ten years ago isn’t as relevant.
In addition to your photo and bio, your articles, columns, and books must be listed on your website if you are a writer.
Your website should list your affiliations, memberships, who you are, why you are an activist, and what your mission is if you are an activist.
Appearance is also crucial
Despite what others may claim, we do judge books by their covers. Therefore, having a professional website will also contribute to the credibility of your website. This encompasses the entire user experience, not just aesthetic appeal. Is it simple to use? Is it user-friendly on all devices, particularly your phone? Is it accessible for disabled individuals? Do you have social cards so that your shared links appear attractive? There are numerous minor factors that add up.
When your website appears as though you spent time, effort, or money on it, it demonstrates that you stand behind it. This increases your credibility.
Tips for Maintaining your website’s Credibility
Also date your articles. When someone visits your website to read something you’ve written, whether it’s a medical journal, a technical article, or a blog post, it’s essential that they know WHEN it was written. If I find an article on website development written ten years ago, it may no longer be relevant. Without a date, I will be unaware.
Include author information on all articles. If your website is not an author website in your name and you are not the only author, it is crucial to include the authors’ names, especially if there are multiple authors. Anonymous posting causes people to pause and wonder who is behind it. Why should we trust your article if we do not know who wrote it or their motivations?
Use real photos. Most people can recognize a stock image from a mile away. There is a time and a place for stock photography, but if you can use authentic images of yourself, your business, your products, or your community, you should. Just be sure to use your own photographs and not Google’s.
Remember to include your contact information. Multiple modes of communication are the best way to declare, “I’m real!” I always advise people to include a contact form on their website because people enjoy filling out forms, but this is definitely one-way communication. You should also include an email address and phone number if you want your website and business/organization to appear legitimate. People may not call you, but having the option makes your website more credible, which is the point. Additionally, if you have a phone number, some individuals will call you, as some individuals are strictly phone people.
Link to additional credible sources. Some website owners object to having links to other websites on their site, but consider the following. A link is simply a bibliography for the content you have written. It demonstrates that you are not writing a one-sided piece and that there are additional sources that agree with or support your position.
How frequently do you publish new content? If it has been a while since your last article, you may wish to add something new. Consistently adding high-quality content goes a long way toward establishing your website’s authority.
The importance of establishing credibility with your target audience cannot be overstated if you want your website to perform well. A website is an extension of you, your organization, your business, or your mission and goals. If it leaves people questioning whether or not they can trust you, then it does not serve your business well.
Even if yours is a “word of mouth” business, people will still research you before working with you, and what they find on your website can influence their decision to take action. There is no second opportunity to make a first impression. Make it a good one by making the credibility of your website a top priority. You won’t regret it.