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 How Do You Convey Credibility And Integrity On The Internet?

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raj_mmm9



Number of posts : 1850
Age : 55
Registration date : 2008-03-08

PostSubject: How Do You Convey Credibility And Integrity On The Internet?   Sat 12 Apr - 19:48

There is something about this electronic medium we operate in every day that makes people skeptical. It's not just having to enter your credit card number into cyber space, or worry about having your identity stolen. Those problems are all too real and we learn to shield ourselves from them, so that we can carry on. But, even when we do, it's still hard to make judgments about people, or about another business, when you only deal with them in the online environment.



In the offline world we have the benefit of looking others in the eye and using our experience to make a judgment about them. Even in our initial encounter with someone, we get to size him up - to have a first impression. But, how are visitors to your web site assessing your credibility and integrity? How do you overcome the basic inconsistency that trust is something that you earn over time, with having only seconds to convey it on the internet?

There are studies out there that provide some excellent thoughts about how to design and build a web site to enhance its credibility and foster trust; you can do a Google search under "web site credibility" and see these for yourself. What they will tell you, though, is that there are a few key design things that go a long way to establishing your credibility online and making it easier for site visitors to trust you and your business. Make sure the site looks professional, is easy to navigate, and that everything works properly. Make sure you provide a clear path for online customers to communicate with you. Make sure that your content establishes both your own credibility and that of any other contributors to your site. Make sure that you change your content frequently and keep it up to date.

These are all common sense steps and they are important; any good site designer will advise you on them and implement what he can for you. Spending the time, or the money to build a site that is flawed in the way it works will clearly undermine the credibility of your business over time and site visitors will never trust you as a result. But, there is more to the issue of conveying integrity than site design.

Given the nature of my business, I spend a lot of time online and see many other sites. I am constantly checking to see how others do things and collecting the best information I can find for my customers. I suppose each of us has our own opinion about what constitutes a "good site," or what makes us distrust any site. There are several things, though, that tip the scales for me and make me immediately suspicious, or not trust the people that are presumably behind the electronic facade they are asking me to use.

The thing that makes me most distrust any online business is feeling "tricked" by them. Some sites are designed to force the user to drill down into the site to find what he wants. When you get to what you’re looking for, though, you discover that you have to register, or provide information about yourself and / or your business, or worse yet pay for something you expected to get for free. When this happens to me, I leave immediately. I don't mind that someone wants a little information, or charges for a product or service that they provide; they just need to tell me that upfront, if they want me to trust their business.

Second, I do not like to be presented with any obstacles in communicating with an online business. It amazes me how many of them create these roadblocks - not making the contact process obvious on the site, not providing an e-mail address and forcing you to go through the site, not being able to communicate with a person, not having an easy way to follow up with them, if they don't respond, not having telephone contact available, etc. You know it's intentional. You know this process is designed to make things easier and more efficient for the company, than for you, the customer.

Third, it frustrates me to no end to be disappointed by the quality of the supporting material on a site. While there is a huge amount of information to be found online, frankly, most of it is useless and it's there because the business owner read someplace that he should have a lot of "content" on his site to draw people in and to enhance his search engine placement. For me, it totally undermines the credibility of a site, when it provides "articles" that have no substance, or worse yet, when the articles are just blatant commercials for the company's products. That's why at Business Advisor Online we read every article before we post it, include less than 20% of what we read, and provide both a summary and a rating of every article, so the reader doesn't waste his time.

Fourth, when I see a lot of advertisements on a site, my first inclination is to bolt; I try to dig a little deeper, but my antenna goes up when I see that I am going to have to wade through all those ads. I understand that letting other companies advertise on your site is a viable business model and, if it's done reasonably and the site is still providing me with real value, I'll tolerate it. But, sometimes the ads are so pervasive that you can't easily tell what the site can actually do for you, or what its purpose is; and the worst situation is not being able to clearly see the difference between an advertisement and content. Just remember - when you see a lot of ads on a site, the person paying for them is the real customer, not you!

Finally, not being able to clearly discern what the site's business model is and how it makes money makes me suspicious. I understand that most people are not going to have this one on their list; but, I believe there are only a three reasons to have a web site to begin with - to sell more, to enhance efficiency, and to provide better service - and if I can't figure out which one the site is trying to accomplish, it makes me a little uncomfortable.

At the risk of oversimplifying this credibility and trust issue, the real solution is to pay attention to it - to make it a point to probe how credible you actually are. As your site changes and evolves, keep testing it and find ways to get feedback from visitors about what they think. Give them a way to "look you in the eye" and you'll have a better chance of earning their trust.
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