Judging Credibility

In real life, our judgement is not always accurate, as con-men are well aware. Typical biases include:

  • We can assign too much credibility to our "in-groups" (e.g. friends, family, those with shared interests and tastes)
  • We tend to over-rely on markers such as confidence, sociability and influence
  • We are hypnotised by repetition and familiarity
  • Our brain begins to absorb a brand / person / logo into it's concept as "normal" upon repeated exposure

Most of these biases transfer online too, but with slightly different stimuli and triggers.

Bear this in mind as we look at ways to boost perception of your credibility online. 

Design and Colour

Balanced layout and cool tones tend to increase a users assessment of your credibility. 

Predictable, run-of-the-mill design may not reflect your company's flair or personality as much as you would like, but if you want to appear credible, it's a good choice.

Colour associations vary from culture to culture. But in the western world, blue is associated with established, reliable, "blue-chip" companies. 

Credibility by Association

While in reality it means nothing, even a simple link from your website to another established and credible site can help build your credibility by association.

If you are a member of any recognised institutions, or you hold any recognised qualifications, you can benefit from their reputation by displaying their logo prominently on your site. 

If you have won any awards, or even if you've only been shortlisted for an award, displaying this on your site demonstrates that the awarding body considers you a serious contender. 

The human brain is hard wired to respond to images, so logos are better than text wherever possible.  As social animals, our strongest response is to faces, so if you're associating with a personality be sure to include a mugshot!

Showcase High Rep Stuff First

Don't forget, familiarity breeds trust. 

If you're an online shop, it's better to showcase the most established brands first, or on your home page. 

If you curate articles, it's better to put the most recognised authors or contributors in prominent positions.  If they have well known blogs or websites themselves, name-check these too.  

If any of your clients are established companies or recognised brands, ask to use their logos and display them clearly. 

Staff Mugshots

Again, we are hard wired to respond to faces.  When interacting online, seeing a photo of the person we're dealing with  can have a powerful effect and give us a more genuine sense of connection. 

Remember, at the start of the article, we said that we trust people who are familiar and similar to us? 

It has been demonstrated that online, we apply similar principles profile photos.  So if you're selling to designers you may want to choose staff shots that display a little personality and flair.  If you're selling to banks, they will expect to see shirts, ties, and corporate looking chops

Case Studies and Testimonials

Don't hide testimonials away where nobody can see them. Put "snippets" of them on your home page and link to the full testimonial from that. Most people will only read and remember the snippet, but being able to see the snippet in context adds credibility. 

For some companies case studies work particularly well.  Using clear headers, short sentences, bullet points and quotes help it to be easily digested by your audience. 

For the reasons stated above, the following make for the most effective testimonials: 

  • A photo of the client
  • The client company logo
  • A video testimonial from the client

Social Proof

Other people's opinion of you is one of the main sources of objective information people have about your company. 

That's why it's good to: 

  • Get plenty of likes on Facebook
  • Attract positive comments on social media
  • Get shared on Instagram
  • Display the number of products sold in the last week / month / year

Destroying Credibility

Trust can be destroyed more quickly than earned.  If you wish to maintain your credibility, you should avoid: 

  • Bad reviews on social media
  • Misleading advertisements 
  • Bad customer service - either rude, ineffective, or both
  • Broken links and 404 pages
  • Wonky, jerky website design
  • Over use of pop ups


Article Photo Credit: Thanks to Andy Kelly on Unsplash

“That's a wrap!“

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