A bottle of water.

Do I trust this web site?

We want our web visitors to want to stay on our site, and we want our web visitors to buy from our site… right? Right. Yesterday I went looking on the web for an obscure part to repair a computer, after my usual suppliers came up empty I broke down and started running web searches. What do you know, I found what I was looking for on the first link. Gleefully I clicked.

A bottle of water.
For Sale : One Pickup Truck. $3000. obo.

I entered into what has to be the worst storefront on the planet. Images were generic and didn’t match the products, all of the store’s fifteen products were on the same page, and the shopping cart was a web form where you filled out the item numbers and e-mailed it to the “ship deportment”(yes it was that bad). Needless to say I backed out of there faster than a mouse who just heard a meow.

But it got me thinking about why I did that. I mean obviously I’m not sending my credit card information over to that site – but where do I draw the line? So I went back to the suppliers I normally work with and looked at their sites. They had a few things that made me feel comfortable with doing business with them.

First off they used real e-mail addresses for their departments – sales@xyz… or billing@xyz… not just one e-mail address for everything. They also had real names for personal e-mails – John.Smith@zyx… or Betty.A@xyz… not cutesy or unprofessional addresses like xsalesx@zyx… or CuteRedHeadInAccounting@xyz… Real names + Real departments = Real business – all of that made me feel like the company was more trustworthy.

Secondly they all had some sort of background information on the company. A page that speaks a little about what the company can do, who the workers are, even a bit of history about the business. I felt like I knew who I was dealing with, they were more real and thus more trusting. That scary site I went to used obvious clip-art for their “corport” headquarters.. (heavy sigh)

Thirdly, the sites I trusted had obviously been spell checked. I mean I can’t say much here – I’ve been known to throw down the occasional typo but there isn’t any excuse not to run spell check over your web site before you publish it. (corport and deportment.. *twitch twitch*) In fact there was a recent study on the BBC that claimed millions of dollars a year in on-line sales were lost because of typos. Bad spellers it’s time to go buy a dictinry, dictoniry, dictionary!

Fourthly, on the trusted sites I could see pictures. Pictures of the workers, pictures of products, pictures of workers with the products, pictures of the corporate headquarters, pictures of workers with products at the corporate headqu… you get the – picture.

Fifth, and I admit this is my personal pet peeve, the copyright date. It really should be this year – not six years ago. I can handle it in January, maybe your webmaster or webmistress is overworked and hasn’t gotten around to it – but after six years – please update your site.

It doesn’t take much to spook your web visitors. So take a few minutes and look at your web site and see how you can build some more trust with potential buyers and improve that bottom line.


~Geof “out of date” Franklin

Researching ways to improve scientist’s access to data. Programming software to solve humanity’s problems. Disseminating emergency preparedness knowledge. Sharing knowledge about science. Practicing amateur radio. Serving humanity through volunteer efforts. Drives a robot to work.


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