Build a Website Customers Will Trust

Who do you trust? Maybe it’s your dog, your best friend, or Tom Hanks…but chances are it’s not that brand new website you just stumbled across that says “BUY NOW! BUY NOW!”

When you run an online store, a non-profit website, or are starting out as a freelancer, your job is to introduce yourself to new visitors and ideally gain their trust. How do you differentiate yourself from the millions of websites out there and show that you’re the “real deal?” These website tips will help you build a site that looks trustworthy and professional:

 

Custom domain

You’re asking people to take a chance on you and your services. But how can you expect them to do that confidently if you won’t even commit to a domain name? Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with starting out on a free subdomain. Once your website is ready to launch (and you’re actually trying to make sales), that’s the time to commit to a custom URL. It’s sort of the website equivalent of moving out of your parents’ garage.

Ideally, you’ll be able to snag a domain name with one of the top level domains (.com, .org, .net, etc.). There are also hundreds of other gTLDs to choose from. If you decide to go that route, you probably want to keep it in the realm of professionalism (as tempting as .cat may be…)

 

Clean, simple design

First impressions make a big difference when we talk about trusting a website. In research from Google on website visitor behavior, they found that people make split-second decisions about whether or not a website is “right” for them. No surprise there. But what is a bit surprising is how people make this decision. Google found that people were most influenced by two design factors: “visual complexity” and “prototypicality.” In other words, people liked designs that were simple and familiar—that “fit” with what they were expecting to see.

A website that doesn’t look like what people are expecting is like a musical note played off key. It creates a little bit of dissonance that makes people more skeptical. That’s why it pays to follow some of the basic rules of web design.

 

Reviews and testimonials

Why do we care what a stranger thinks of a local business website of a restaurant, a plumber, or a vacuum cleaner? It’s because “social proof” is a powerful psychological influence. Before we take a step, we like to know that others have gone before us. They don’t even have to be people we know. According to a recent consumer survey by BrightLocal, 84% of people trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations.

Think about adding a Testimonials page to your website. You can gather testimonials from happy customers and share them in a Text Element. If you have permission to add their full name and photo, even better. Or, if you’re looking to add star ratings or testimonials that are connected to people’s social media profiles, check out some of our recommendations here.

 

Logos and badges

A third-party logo or badge is a quick way to show off some visual “seals of approval” and boost your reputation. Maybe you’re a member of a trade organization, you’ve won an award, or you’ve been certified as an eco-friendly business. Perhaps your non-profit qualifies for a certain charity rating. Or maybe like our friend Chris at The Old Norse, you are featured in GQ magazine. No matter what it is, knowing that a reputable third-party endorses you can give visitors more confidence.

One easy way to add these logos is to set up a Columns Element. In each column, add a Photo Element and upload the logo file. Your sidebar, footer, or About Page would be a good place to put these.

For more charity website tips, check out our Nonprofit Website Guide and How to Add A Donate Button to Your Website.

Authentic writing

The internet is full of quick fixes, get-rich schemes, and emails from exiled princes who need your help. If you want to build trust, don’t let those serve as a model for your website writing. A website that comes across as too sales-y or exaggerated can turn off savvy customers.

For small businesses, the best results come from authentic, natural, and more conversational website text. Start by telling your story as if you’re talking to a real person. How did you get your start, what do you like about what you do, and what makes you unique? Better yet, have a friend read it and ask them, “does this sound like me?” For some good examples of Jimdo websites with honest, effective website copy, check out Bobsmade and Ouver Coffee.  

If you find yourself falling back on marketing-speak (innovative synergy!), vague statements (“we’re the number one solution”), cliches (“a once in a lifetime opportunity!”) or too many exclamation points (!!!!!) it might be time for a rewrite.

 

Reliable Numbers

Visuals and good copy are important, and it’s even better if you can balance them with some hard numbers. Write about the number of years you’ve been in business, the number of customers you’ve served, or the number of products you’ve sold. After all, there’s a reason McDonald’s famous sign says “Billions and billions served.”

If you’re a non-profit or charitable organization, it’s becoming standard practice to share information on your finances on your website. This helps show how you spend your money, who your donors are, and what percentage of donations go directly to services as opposed to overhead or fundraising. For US-based orgs, you should also state clearly if you’re a tax-deductible 501(c)3 organization and provide your Federal Tax ID Number.

 

Clear store policies and security

When we talk about trust, a lot of what we are saying is, “Am I willing to send this person money?” As a customer, that’s a big leap to make for a website that you just met. That’s why you can take some steps to make your online store look even more reputable and secure.

Fortunately, all Jimdo website have HTTPs security, so your customer’s information is secure. In addition, it’s a good idea take payments using the most reputable payment processors, like PayPal and Stripe. There are also lots of reputable donation engines that will help people chip in to your cause safely and securely, as opposed to just sending you a check.  

In addition to the payment processing, it’s a good idea to write out your shipping, payment, and store policies. Everyone will be on the same page and have confidence that you won’t take them for a ride.

Spell out exactly what your return policy is, how long orders take, and any other issues or points of confusion. (An FAQ page is a great way to do this). Good store policies show that you have experience with all sorts of online store issues—in other words, that you’re not a complete newbie.


If you’re selling online, taking donations, or looking to attract new customers, building trust is a major goal. With a little effort, your website can send the right signals and make people more comfortable doing business with you. Any other thoughts on what makes a trustworthy website? Let us know in the comments!