Good Design Helps Your Website Visitors Trust You

Design matters. And most web designers will agree but do you?

Web designers know that design can be the difference between a website that gets clients, and a website that doesn’t. A website that makes that vital first connection and a website that leads to visitors bouncing.

Most people write these web designer claims off as, “that’s just designers being designers. Of course they are going to make such claims.”

But there’s evidence.

A health websites study asked 15 participants with a risky health decision to search for information and advice. Out of all of the factors mentioned by participants as to why they mistrusted the website, 94% of them were design related.

This study is particularly interesting because it is close to a situation that those seeking therapy may be in: a stressful health-related situation and a need to find information around that situation.

Afterwards, the authors of the study reflected on how greatly design impacted their participants.

“The look and feel of the website was clearly important to the participants”

And also,

“Poor interface design was particularly associated with rapid rejection and mistrust of a website”

What Makes A Design Trustworthy?

Based on what was brought up in the study, here are some of the key points that can make the difference between a trustworthy website design and an untrustworthy one:

  • Simple, clean layouts preferred over complex, crowded ones that deliver the information that is important.
  • Easy to understand and follow navigation that allows visitors to find what they are looking for shows that you “get it”, effectively positioning you as the expert in where they are and what they need.
  • Nonthreatening design and email marketing which avoids aggressive list building tactics like popups or obnoxiously loud colors and arrows.
  • Quick page loading times that respect your website visitor’s time.
  • Print that is comfortable reading size and line width that allow the written content on your website to be read and understood with ease.
  • Text that is not overwhelmingly verbose or poorly formatted meaning that there is not more text than needed for conveying the point and formatting that allows content to be easily skimmed.
  • Approachable design that doesn’t look super corporate or hyper-medical. These design styles can come across as cold and won’t build trust if there’s that cold barrier in place.
  • Ability to search in the cases of websites that do have a lot of educational, informative style content or perhaps large mental health practices that have more than a few services.

Tips On Making Your Website More Trustworthy

One of the best ways for you to improve your website design in terms of trust is to get feedback on your website.

Ask this question: Which colors, design elements, layouts, pictures, headings help people feel they can trust you, which ones do the opposite?

You can get feedback from friends, family, and colleagues but perhaps for better feedback you may want to reach out to some design professionals. Try and find designers who will check out your website with the above list of items in mind.

(Actually, the best feedback you’ll be able to get is through testing. But most practices will not have a budget for split testing website design: a process that entails careful goal setting and prioritization, hypothesizing about results, setting up and measuring tests over time, and implementing winning design features. Luckily, getting feedback is a good, attainable alternative).

With the feedback that you get, be ruthless and remove untrustworthy stuff from your site. Once a website visitor lands on your website and says, “this is the right place, I feel safe, I feel understood, I feel good here” then you’ve achieved trust along with some of the other great feelings that can be given to your website visitor through good design.

Trust is So Important

For clients that are seeking information about therapy services online, the start of their therapeutic relationship with you is going to start with their first exposure to your online presence.

The start of that relationship needs for you to be trustworthy or the relationship will end before it even began. They need to trust you and believe you when you say that your solution may help them.

A small amount of trust will come from the mention of your credentials. But It’s about more than just credentials and you’ll be selling yourself far too short if you left it at just that.

Good design is trust promoting. So ensuring that you’re using design to build that trust from the first impression onwards is imperative.

What do you think? How trustworthy is your website design? What impression does it leave your website visitors with?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. You may send me a note or tweet me anytime.

About Kat Love

Hi, I'm Kat! I'm the founder and lead designer here at Empathysites. Therapists helped me heal from childhood sexual abuse so now I help therapists with creating their websites. I write on topics like website design, strategy, and turning website visitors into clients. Reach out anytime if you'd like to say hi. PS. my pronouns are they/them/their. Thanks.