Need to better inform, educate, and sell to your prospective customers? This checklist can help.

Building trust online is the secret sauce that can dramatically increase the effectiveness of your website. Potential customers judge a website based on their trust in the website, and how useful it is to them. Several things contribute to how visitors perceive these factors. By considering these factors, you can increase your potential customers' desire to contact you, visit you, and do business with you.

We built this checklist based on work with our small business clients, and from our research on the topic. Many of things included here are are applicable to a not-so-small business too. In this checklist, we cover factors that are not dependent on a new website design.

If you are interested in the research and specific references, please check out our website-tuneup-tips presentation.

Trust: A local presence that is real and authentic.

  • Do you list your address, phone number, and e-mail address or contact form on the front page of your website?
  • Do you have an "About Us" page? A business history and story identify you as authentic.
  • Do you have pictures of your staff? Pictures make your staff more concrete.
  • Do you list your local memberships, such as the Chamber of Commerce?
  • Have you claimed and verified your Google listing? Google business listings are another way that potential customers can find and research you. Bonus: Consider your listing on Yelp.

Trust: Show you respect visitor data.

  • Are you using HTTPS? Google downgrades sites that don't use HTTPS and some browsers indicate the site is "not secure." It used to be that you only needed HTTPS for e-commerce and other sensitive data, but that's not true anymore.
  • Do you have a privacy policy? If you collect any information, even through a contact form, you should post what you do with that data.

Trust: Show your expertise.

  • Do you have a list of frequently-asked questions and answers to them? FAQs answer visitor questions, making it easier for them to take further action, and the FAQs can provide content to rank higher is searches. There is also the potential to be shown in Google's "featured snippets."
  • Do you show verified proof of your expertise? Listing awards, badges, news stories, and industry recognition can help build trust if they are able to be verified, such as through links to the granting organizations.

Trust: Showcase your reputation.

  • Do you include customer testimonials or case studies? Customer testimonials are one of the most effective ways to market your products and services. It helps to use quotes and stories about a specific interaction or customer service experience, rather than generic comments.

Trust: Mobile first.

  • Does your site look as good on a phone as it does on a desktop? Potential customers are increasing their use of mobile phones to do searches and queries.
  • Does your site work well on a mobile phone? Sometimes important content can be moved to the very bottom of a phone view, making it less likely to be seen. Or, perhaps the contact form is harder to use at phone width. Visitors expect your site to work just as well on a mobile phone as on a desktop.

Trust: Avoid errors and mistakes.

  • Do you have inaccurate information? Visitors are sensitive to small errors, such as spelling mistakes, and larger errors, such as not removing previous staff contact information.
  • Does your site look abandoned? Lack of current blog content, old copyright dates, or old information can make your site seem less reliable.

Trust: Make it clear and simple.

  • How cluttered is your website? Visitors interact less with websites that have a lot of clutter, or visual complexity. Consider simplifying information and images.

Usefulness: Show you are efficient.

  • How long does it take your page to load? 32% of visitors abandon a website if it takes over 3 seconds to load. That increases to 90% for 5 seconds. Use to check. Then, work with your developer or site host to improve.
  • Can you optimize your images? Large images can increase page load time. Again, you can work with your developer or site host to optimize your image loading.

Usefulness: Make your content easy to find.

  • Do you have information arranged in a way the customer wants to see it? Organizing your information according to how a potential customer would look for information will make your site more visitor friendly.
  • Do you post your hours?

Usefulness: Share your unique content.

  • Do you showcase your special product and services? What differentiates you from your competition? Do you offer free services, such as WiFi?
  • Do you indicate special sales or events?

Usefulness: Create content that educates and informs.

  • How much information do you put on your website? More content that is specific to your industry or business can help your ranking in searches, and help visitors take the next step to contact you or do business with you.
  • Don't forget a call to action. When visiting your website, what do you want visitors to do? Make sure it's easy for them to take that action.

If you need help . . .

Sometimes you realize your website no longer meets your business goals, or you want to make changes that require a little outside assistance to complete. We'd be happy to help! Contact us if you'd like a free estimate for changes to your website.