The 10 Guidelines to Credibility

Before I got into design, I attempted to create my own e-commerce website. Even though it had a clean, minimalistic layout and sold trendy, fashionable clothing, it failed to get any sales. Due to being a small, unknown company, users had no reason to trust my site. Why should they hand over their credit card and personal information to someone they didn’t know?

You can have the most amazing, innovative product, but if users don’t trust it, they won’t use it. So how do you gain users’ trust? Well the key element to trust is credibility. Stanford’s Guidelines for Web Credibility is based on 3 years of research and consists of 10 guidelines to make web design more credible. Here, I go over those guidelines and explain how they can be implemented in design.

1. Make verification easy

Fact-checking each and every statement on a site. Determining whether or not information on a site is reliable can be difficult and time-consuming. When information is cited and refers back to the source material, especially when the source is known to be credible, users feel reassured that the information is accurate.

2. Show that you’re real

With the high amount of scammers on the web, users need to know that you are a legitimate organization. This can be accomplished by placing the company’s address on the site and including images of behind-the-scenes, such as the employees in the office or at an event.

3. Highlight Expertise

Being associated with experts and well-respected brands is a good way to show users you are backed by knowledgeable and trusted sources and boost reputation. Be sure to display the logos of well-respected organizations you are affiliated with and link back to their sites.

4. Show the real people

People trust people over faceless organizations. Users feel more empathetic and connected to a site that shows the people who are behind it. Adding text, such as biographies, further humanizes the people behind the site and makes them more relatable to the user.

5. Let people contact you

There is nothing more irritating than having a dire need or concern and having to jump through hoops to contact the site. Contact information, such as phone numbers and email addresses, should be especially easy for the user to find.

6. Look professional

The number one factor determining credibility and the first thing users see is the visuals and overall aesthetic. It should convey an appropriate look for its purpose. Careful consideration should be made around colors, typography, and grid alignment to match the mindset of the user.

7. Usability and Usefulness

This should be an obvious one from the UX standpoint. Sites need to be easy for the user to use and serve a purpose.

8. Update Often

If a site hasn’t been updated recently, users may not know if it is any longer in use or still relevant. Make sure the content is updated and reflects current information.

9. Restrain from promotions

If you have ever been on a website that floods your computer with advertisements and sometimes viruses, you can see why having multiple ads and promotions retract from a site’s credibility. It is best practice to try to avoid having ads, but if that is not possible, make sure to clearly communicate and distinguish promotional content

10. Avoid Errors

It’s crucial to make sure there are no errors and everything behaves as it is supposed to. Make sure to correct any broken links or spelling mistakes.