Your checklist for creating a trustworthy website

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With the proliferation of website hosting services and site building tools, it is getting ever more tricky to build a good looking site that consumers trust all on a tight budget.

But there are things you can do to make sure that anyone landing on your site – especially via your own or affiliate email marketing or search – feel you are credible enough to buy from.

Professional design

While design is no longer a guarantee of a legal site, many consumers arriving at a site they haven’t visited before will look around first – so make sure that your site is well designed and coherent throughout every page that they can see.

And keep it modern. Old fashioned websites look unprofessional and they also look as if they have not been used for ages. This would ring alarm bells with consumers.

Old skool web design makes everything look a bit ‘fraudy’

A legit e-commerce website is a business and should have ample space dedicated to describing your products, services and business, order status checking, contact information, return and privacy policies, as well as information about the company, its founders and history.

Keeping everything very up to date – and updating it regularly – is also key, as is indicating the date of updates and so on, so that visitors can see that this is a living breathing site.

It is also vital to encourage customers to leave comments and feedback – even if its negative – as this all adds to the impression of being used, and interacted with and that you are running a business.

Marketing design

Driving people to your site is obviously key to your business, and using email and SMS marketing – either directly of through affiliates – is key.

But the one golden rule of this is make sure that your marketing material reflects the branding – logo, colours, typeface etc – of your site so that when clicking through consumers feel reassured that this is all part of a well-oiled organization.

Also make sure that your rigourous design aesthetics applied to your site are also applied to your marketing material. The same principle applies: if this looks slick then its going to be taken more seriously.

Nice URLs

While the design of your marketing and site are crucial, you must also make sure you have a nice, simple URL that reflects what you do and is ideally the name of your business.

Any URL that features a ‘/’ and a load of sub-site html is not going to cut the mustard and should put any prospective customer off and the point of clicking any links. Make sure your URL is straightforward and is, ideally, the name of your business.

Contact information

Having ample and up to date and easy ways to contact you via your website is also imperative.

Having a valid, easily found email contact is one thing, but to offer real peace of mind to consumers you also need to have live telephone numbers and even Instant Messaging facilities so that you can be contacted at point of purchase should the customer have a question or a wobble.

Telephone numbers should, ideally, be toll-free and mobile numbers should only be offered as an out of hours option.

Email addresses as well should feature the company name. Having [email protected] won’t cut it. You have to have an email address that reflects your business URL.

You should also offer your registered business address, business registration number and all that corporate stuff, as this all again cements the legitimacy of the site.


Getting recognized trust marks on your site also helps legitimize it in the mind of prospective shoppers. However, there is a clue in the title: “recognized”. There are hundreds of trust marks that you could apply for and stick on your site, however, only a few are really recognized by consumers.

According to eConsultancy research, 76% of people had not purchased from a site because it did not have a trust mark they recognized. The same research went on to find that the most well recognized are: McAfee (79%); Verisign (76%); Paypal (72%); BBB (37%); and TRUSTe (28%).

So how do you go about getting a trust mark? Well, you have to use the Trustmark company’s services and you usually have to pay. They obviously require you to be of a certain standard, so all our tips here need to be employed before you apply.

Secure checkout

Of course, assuming that everything else has lead your customer to make a purchase the final hurdle is always the checkout area. Providing a secure checkout is key and this can be done in a number of ways.

Firstly, you can hand over the check out to someone else such as SagePay, WorldPay or PayPal or your bank, which will hopefully fill the customer with trust and warm vibes.

If you are looking to offer your own payments page then make sure it is secured using the SSL and TLS security protocols that your web host can provide when you build the site.

This will make sure that simple things such as the URL appears in the address bar starting https:// and is coloured green. If it hasn’t got an s then it ain’t secure – and consumers know this. Also display a padlock on the URL bar.

The payment page should also clearly show the amount, the goods being purchased, the order number and who is being paid and how that will appear on the cardholder’s bill.


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