CX Insights

Personalize Your Website And Gain Credibility

9 min read

Personality is one of the major factors to influence web credibility. We love the feeling to actually interact with a real person, rather than a machine. The design of a website and the personality that comes with it can trick us into this idea, even if we are very well aware that all we see is basically some code sent to us by a faraway server, interpreted by our web browser.

  • If you have any feature requests, you have an amazing idea […], you need support, or just want to say “Hi”, please contact us.

Quotes like the one above can make a big difference when it comes to how trustworthy users perceive your website. The text shows that the people behind are not only truly interested in what their users have to say, also their tone of voice is very human and authentic.

That web credibility is important for any business is not a secret. We find plenty of sources for that, not only on our own blog, but also on the site of Stanford Web Credibility Research, or in other articles on the topic, like published recently on UX Booth.

Let’s not get into the why again. Instead, let’s have a look at how you can boost your web credibility through personality. I created a list of discoveries that show how you can build trust, simply by pointing out that you are a real organization with real people, who are easy to contact.

1. Show that your organization is real

I don’t know about you, but I still like it to go to a store, rather than buy stuff online. I love it to walk around and get distracted by thousand of products, before I find what I’m looking for. I want to take things into my hand before I buy them, as if I could feel their quality with my hands, or in a matter of fact the lack of the same. I also look at the store itself to help me with my buying decision; if the store is messy and not organized very well, I prefer to go somewhere else. At the end, it all comes down to a matter of trust. The multi-level experience that I have in an offline store helps me decide whether or not it is a trustworthy buying environment.

On the Web, all of this becomes much more difficult. Sure, it’s easier to buy something by just a few mouse clicks and for example product comparison can even be more convenient online. Still, your clients are missing out on a lot of the experience they might appreciate about a real store. This is why it is important to show that you are a real organization. Let your visitors feel that you are not made up and that in case they really want to complain about something, they could come by and do so. Here are three examples how you can help your users to experience your organization.

Be authentic

Discovered by usabilla.

A very important aspect about your credibility is your authenticity. There are plenty of little companies and one-man businesses who believe they are taken more seriously if they pretend to be more of a big corporation. If you are alone, why not just say so and therefore be yourself. By pretending to be bigger than you really are, you only get yourself into trouble and lose your credibility. The interaction designer Jarad Johnson boldly claims who he is, which really makes me trust him. One guy with that much self confidence, he’s got to be a genius.

Offer a physical address

Discovered by usabilla.

Offer a physical address on your site, if possible. Don’t worry, chances are little that anyone will actually come by, but at least you offer your users the possibility to do so. For people like me, this is very important. At least then I can take a look at google street view and get a vague impression of who I’m dealing with. Also knowing that I could send a letter for whatever reason makes me a happy client. I could send you a postcard because I really like you, or if I don’t like you, I could send you a threatening note. Not that I would ever do that, but just knowing that I could makes me trust you. I love it how they phrase it on “Need some physical contact?” Sounds like they are already expecting a postcard from me, doesn’t it?

Show what your place looks like

Discovered by nilsvantilborg.

Also a great way to give your users some realy store experience is to give them an impression of how your place looks like. By proving to your users that your organization really exists, they will be more willing to trust that you. For example, I love it how ‘t Raadhuis van Goudriaan put their restaurant as eye catcher on the front page. Sure, this image is perfectly photoshopped, but who says you are not allowed to cheat a little bit? If it is only half as romantic in real, I’d still love to go there for a nice dinner.

2. Be open about who you are

Being in a store not only gives me an impression of the physical place, but also of the people who work there. I can ask any question I want and if the salespeople are likable I can even chat with them a little. Usually it only takes me a couple of minutes to figure out if I can trust someone, which greatly helps to judge their expertise and credibility.

Again, online this is more tricky. Salespeople with expertise are just as important and if I buy stuff online doesn’t mean I have less questions or need less information to make a decision. By showing that your organization is run by real people and that these people are authentic and trustworthy, you can make your users feel more comfortable on your site. Here are some examples of how to show that your team is real and trustworthy.

Introduce your team as real people

Discovered by jules.

By showing a picture of your team you can proof that you and your team are real people. Match the setup of the picture to your company. For example, you can let your team be more casual if you are a creative agency. However, especially for bigger companies or corporations, an out of the ordinary team picture can be very likable. Pictures tell us a lot about people. If you can’t decide how to present your team, just let everyone choose for themselves. They probably know best how they want others to see them. FancyRhino does a great job, I think. They present themselves as very likable and harmonic group of individuals.

Point out your expertise

Discovered by usabilla.

Also, you can point out your expertise in order to make people trust you. On the Web, it is very important to keep in mind that your users can only see what you show them. There is no body language that gives away if you feel confident, and there is no facial expression to tell how certain you are about what you say. Give away enough information about what you do and what you are good at to make people believe you. On, I think they make perfect use of the context of their site to position themselves as experts whom I can trust.

3. Make it easy to contact you

Obviously, the World Wide Web is worldwide. No matter what we are looking for, we can easily end up somewhere on the other side of the globe. While chances, that someone will actually stop by to say “Hi” are quite small, people still want to reach out to you. They want to ask questions and tell you their opinion. Promote your contact information somewhere very easy to find. Here are some examples of how you can invite people to get in touch.

Show who is behind your support

Discovered by patashe.

Not only offer support, but actually show who’s on the other end of the line. Speaking for myself, I prefer to get into touch with people I already know. Consider pictures of your support team a first introduction. Targetprocess give me a great impression of who I’d be contacting. It even seems like they give me the choice not only between different channels of communication, but also between their support people.

Offer easy to use contact options

Discovered by mva.

We are all different and that’s why we all prefer different means of communication. While some of us love to talk on the phone, others prefer chat, or even email as it gives them more time to think through their questions. Ideally, you consider all of these preferences and offer multiple ways to contact you. For example, pulpfingers offer different contact options, such as a contact form, email address, or social media buttons. Besides, their tone of voice is very personal and inviting.

Discovered by usabilla.

Of course I have to mention Balsamiq here as well. Their whole marketing strategy is really down to earth and very personal. I wouldn’t feel any hesitation to get in touch in case I needed to. They also offer very different channels to contact them and also personal contact details for every member of their team.

Discovered by frederic.

If you want to contact Jarad Johnson. Why not send him a postcard. His contact form pulls up from the bottom of the page once you click on Send me a message, I promise I’ll response and it is designed like an antique postcard. Also he offers many other ways to get in touch with him.

Be active on social media

Discovered by mva.

Being on social media has almost become a must have for any company. As social media is all about interacting with others and sharing stuff, it’s not a surprise that people use these channels to contact you. Not being active on social media can disappoint your users if that’s the way they have chosen to get in contact. At the same time, it works the other way around. For example on facebook and twitter, people are very communicative, which forms a perfect base to get them involved in a conversation. NDTV nicely integrate social media buttons on their site. They don’t use standard buttons, but a beautiful and very personal design, which I think is very authentic and trustworthy.

Discovered by claudio.

Also issuu give their Twitter button a personal twist. The handwritten correction changing ME into US gives me the impression that they really put some thought into this. This little detail really invites me to follow them as it gives me the impression that they are active on twitter.

Discovered by usabilla.

Last but not least, TechChrunch has a nice way to promote their social media buttons and contact options with the quote CRUNCH WITH US. This creates an instant feeling of being part of the Tech Crunch community and invites me to get in contact with them.

Sabina Idler
Sabina was technical writer & UXer @Usabilla for 5 years before she started her own UX research and consultancy firm; UXkids. With UXkids, Sabina leverages her academic research expertise, know how in child development, and strategic vision to help companies build successful digital products for children. You can connect with Sabina on Linkedin or follow her on Twitter.