If you have developed websites on Mars in recent years, you will be forgiven for not knowing about web usability. You'll still be creating landing pages, having pages with massive download times and using more images than you can shake. Well, back to Earth these days are gone and today web usability governs the world of web development.

 

As for the rest of us, Earth based developers, we have learned a lot about usability and we are all using the best we can on our sites. Right, people? After all, web usability has huge benefits.

 

Now that usable sites have become so common, especially among the top Web players, it's time to start looking into the future. Suddenly, a usable site will not be enough to separate us from our competitors (other than those that use the Mars-based developers). There is a solution. It's two long words.

 

Join our new best friend ...

 

Web credibility.

 

What is credibility on the web and why is it important?

 

According to BJ Fogg, the world's leading researcher on web credibility, credibility on the web is about making your site such that it is trustworthy and well-informed.

Fogg will tell you, as do I, and several other organizations, that a trustworthy site can bring tremendous benefits to your website and your business. So here are some statistics to prove this point:

 

- Only 52.8% of web users believe that online information is reliable (source: UCLA)

 

Four out of five users say that being able to trust a site's information is very important to them when they decide to visit a site (source: Princeton Survey Research Associates)

So credibility on the web is very important then. But how do you implement it on your site? Do not fear, all the answers are in the realms of this article. Now, before going any further, I must emphasize that most of these things fall into the category of "it's obvious when you know it." You know, like someone gave you a puzzle and you could not do it, but when they tell you the answer, it's really obvious. The credibility of the Web is all common sense - you just do not think about those things. So without further ado, here are five guidelines for creating a dependable website.

  1. You must prove that there is a real organization behind your site

 

Anyone can create a website that promises to offer the "best service at the lowest prices." Web users should be able to believe that there is a real organization behind your site. Some things you can do are:

 

- Make contact with you easier

- Link to external sites that refer to your organization

- Provide staff biographies

- Show photos of the office, employees, products etc.

 

This basically says that you should have a very good contact with us and about us section. Do not bury your contact link somewhere obscure on the website or on the page. Do how you really want visitors to your site to contact you.

 

As for the section about us, do not underestimate its importance. Do not be afraid to show who you are (stand up and be proud!), What you stand for, what your goals are, and a little bit about your history (of the organization, not you). People will read these things - it certainly will not be the first thing they read on your site, but it may be the last thing they read before deciding whether to do business with you or not.

 

Can you think of other ways to prove that your organization is real? Take a look at a site you visit quite often - what is this site that you trust?

  1. Your site must provide "sensitive"

 

A website is similar to a one-way conversation between you and the visitors to your site, where you have 100% control over the dialogue. If site users realize that you do not have credibility, you will be unable to defend yourself. As such, you should make sure to answer any questions your site visitors might have, for example:

 

- What is the purpose of your organization?

 

How much does your product cost?

 

- What happens if I'm not happy with your service

- What will you do with my email address when I give it to you?

 

There are about 200 million websites on the Internet - by 2020, an estimated 250 million, not including personal websites. With so many people online and so many websites competing with yours, if you cannot persuade Internet users to be loyal to your site, someone else will.

  1. All statements must be supported by evidence from third parties

"We have helped our customers achieve an average of 70% growth last year." Same? Well, taste it! Every point you make on your website should, without fail, be backed with concrete evidence - preferably from a third-party site. How else can a reader know with certainty that you are telling the truth?

 

Customer testimonials, for example, are great - they're even better if the testimonial is linked to the client's site. You can improve them even more if the name of the person making the statement is linked to your biography on your site. You can achieve even more credibility points if the testimonial itself is on the client's website and you link to it!

If you have won any awards or belong to any industry body, then proudly display these badges as well. Better yet, link to the external site. Better yet, it would be a direct link to the section of the site showing the details of your subscription or a list of the prize winners.

  1. There has to be evidence that the organization is growing and has clients

 

An organization that can prove that it has clients and is experiencing growth instantly achieves credibility. By showing that you have offered your services several times before, and expecting to do so in the future, your organization seems to be firmly established in your industry. You can prove this by providing:

 

- a list of customers

- Depositions

- Case studies of your work

- The last news section

- a job page

- Free Newsletter

  1. Your website needs to have an air of professionalism and trust

 

Your website is the online representation of your organization - it is essential that it matches the quality of the rest of your marketing materials. Even if you do not believe that your site is important to your organization's success, (potential) customers will make judgments about your organization based on your website.

 

So what is the number one most important aspect of Web credibility? The section about us? No. Quality of external links? No-siree. Studies have consistently proven that the most important criteria of web credibility are ... the appearance of the website. That's it.

It has been suggested that this is due to the little time spent on websites, so we tend to rely on the initial judgments. Be sure to create a great first impression with a professional and sharp layout with clear graphics. Other good things to do are:

 

- Provide some free information to prove your experience

- Ensure that there are no dead links

- Send an automated confirmation email when someone contacts you

 

There are many more! Just visit any website you notice to be professional and confident and see what they do.

 

The author is associate editor at Bravens Inc., Specialized Workforce Solutions Provider Company in the United States