Conveying legitimacy with your website – part 1
Last week I talked about 5 ways you could be turning your customers away. It struck me that there is so much to share with you on this, that I’m going into this subject matter a bit deeper over this 2 part post. Showing that you’re legitimate is the first step to building trust. As small and independent businesses, that’s where the ‘big boys’ really have one over on us. Their names are so much more established, they have the luxurious marketing budgets to raise awareness and build their brand. So us small and indie businesses have to use everything available to us to show the world we are legitimate and trustworthy.
Getting to the basics, conveying legitimacy means firstly showing that you are real; that you actually exist as a bonafide business, not just a front for fraudulent activity. Beyond that showing you are legal and compliant professionally builds on that sense of legitimacy. They aren’t neccessiliry the most exciting of subjects but they are utterly fundamental – It’s these 2 areas I’ll be exploring here. In part 2 (next week) I’ll be discussing how you and your team prove on your website that you have the skills, expertise, and experience to be carrying out the business you do.
Proving you exist as a genuine company online can be about showing your connections outside of your website.
Solid contact information
Easy to find contact details, ideally a postal address, landline number and definitely email addresses and contact forms. Limited company information and VAT number displayed are also important if you have them.
Active social media profiles
These not only act as further proof that you exist but also show you interacting well with others that adds an extra layer of legitimacy. Of course, inactive social media profiles can go to build concerns that you are not really doing business.
Photographs of you and your team
This is without doubt the thing clients are least keen to do. It would be cruel to say it’s simply an issue of vanity, it can just be difficult to find a photograph of yourself that you can live with which also feels like it presents you correctly. But that’s not an excuse, my advice is to find a photographer you feel comfortable with and get a set of good quality pictures of you and your team. A professional photographer give you quality photographs but they also offer the objectivity that friends and family, so you can see past your own self-consciousness to what actaully conveys the right message.
Other connections with the world outside your business
Being legal & compliant
Apart from displaying valid company information, there will be other legal and compliance aspects to your business. Displaying these clearly and accurately will act as a strong message that you are legitimate and legal.
Usually displayed as a link in the footer of a website, these should be displayed to make sure your visitors know where they stand, even if your website is simply used as a marketing tool. If you’re directly selling via your website then there are more aspects to this that should be covered. There’s tons of information on online & distance selling here.
This is a legal issue that you must comply with. The use of design elements such as layouts, colours and fonts can affect how accessible your website is for everyone. It’s important your website developer is working with The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) guidelines, as accessibility forms part of this. An often missed aspect of accessibility is the use (or misuse) of Alt text on images. This is hidden text added to allow people to use screenreaders to find out what an image has on it. Google also uses alt text to ‘read images’ as the search robots can’t see their content. As a consequence, many web designers and the like use alt text simply as a tool for Search Engine Optimisation. This is bad practice. Good alt text can and should serve both human beings and robots if done properly. Ask me about this if you want to know more.
Specific legal requirements of your business
There may well be other legal aspects to your business that you can display on your website. Insurance coverage or industry watchdogs or professional bodies, whatever it is, if you’re complying with it then make sure people can see this on your website.
Look out for part 2 of this post, next week all about the subject of proving your legitimacy through quality and expertise.
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