Giving your visitors a feeling of trust when they first load up your website is a hugely important and often overlooked aspect of web design. Some sites look trustworthy and some don’t but it’s not until we examine the designs a bit more deeply that the key elements that help to build a visitors trust become clear.
Starting at the top of the page it is important to have a unique logo. Right from large multinational companies down to humble bloggers, if you don’t have a trustworthy and striking logo you probably won’t get my business or my subscription. The examples below show two high profile bloggers that spent time and money to get the right logo early on and it has paid dividends in terms of trust and subscribers.
Next on the list and an element often overlooked by bloggers and large corporations alike is the about page, demonstrated very well by Digg in the screenshot below. An about page needs to have photos, good formatting and most importantly some easy to understand text explaining what the site is about and who runs it. Having a page of corporate speak isn’t going to earn my trust.
A design element not usually associated with trust is the main navigation menu. Make it complex and hard to use and people will become annoyed and think your site is badly designed, once you annoy somebody they are very likely to stop trusting the rest of your site as well. Microsoft has a good example of the sort of easy to use menu that has clearly been custom designed and it works well to make me want to use the rest of the site.
Most designers are finally getting used to the fact that sometimes white is best. Gone are the days when entire pages had to be full of graphics, sometimes the more white space you can include on a page the more stunning the design is. Apple are masters of white space, look how easy to use the page below appears, even with over 40 links in the footer.
If all else fails and you really are having a tough time earning trust you might need to forget the subtle approach and use the Paypal method. The screenshot below shows how Paypal has given up most of the homepage and uses a graphic purely designed to earn the trust of new visitors.