Trust is one of the best ways to differentiate your website in today’s over-saturated online world. People are quick to judge websites (and many other things in life), both when they’re visiting your site for the first time, or when they’re considering to stick around in a later visit.
The goal is not to simply make your website “feel” more trustworthy, but to actually make it so, to honestly care about your audience and improve the user experience on your site.
These changes should keep people on the site longer and make them engage more with your content. In technical terms, that leads to a lower bounce rate and to more pages/visit).
Let’s explore how you can make your website more trustworthy:
1. Simplify the site design and let it “breathe”
Your website is like a storefront, you can’t afford to have it messy and overcrowded.
A clean and inviting design is the “je ne sais quoi” that makes people want to learn more about your images and services. A beautiful design will speak volumes about your photography brand.
On the other hand, a messy and cluttered layout will surely turn people away in this day and age.
Visitors will be less confused (because you’re not giving them too many options) and better able to navigate your website with less “friction”. They’ll come back for more.
2. Be consistent with colors, fonts, and design elements
Familiarity plays a big role in user-experience. If people run into completely different styles when browsing throughout different sections of your site, they’ll feel they’re seeing separate websites so they’ll remain vigilant (because everybody has finely-tuned “bs” filters these days, to sift through all the crappy websites with annoying distractions).
Being consistent with your use of graphical elements (same font families, background colors, button styles, etc.) is an important UX factor that shouldn’t be neglected. And most importantly, make sure that your site’s navigation menu is the same throughout the site.
So take some time to browse through your entire website and take notes on where you can implement small tweaks to make everything feel more unified, more consistent.
3. Include signs of your reputation as a photographer
If you have experience in your field, you can convey confidence in your visitors that you’re a reputable photographer.
On your homepage and/or About page, consider listing out (true) facts that might impress your audience:
- years of experience in your field
- specific past projects that were out of the ordinary
- number of clients served
- mentions in the press (print articles, blogs, podcasts, etc.)
- testimonials from past clients (more on this here)
- photography awards
- memberships / affiliations
- social media followers
All these stats and social proof can nudge visitors into working with you (or purchasing your images), it proves to them that you’re successful and trustworthy.
4. Add hints of your personality and write in a friendly tone of voice
If your site is full of business copy, people won’t relate to your message. Unless you want to reach out to corporate clients – for which it’s critical to understand your target audience – being more personal in your writing is a great way to convey trust, to be relatable.
You want to humanize your website. People don’t trust the website directly, they trust the person behind the website.
Your personality should dictate your site’s colors and, of course, how you write about yourself and your work.
You can choose how much of yourself (your principles, your preferences, your humor) you want to “show” on the site, but always err on the side of more. Prove to people that there’s a real photographer behind the site by showing a self-portrait (usually on the About page) and by writing in your natural voice.
5. Be open on your About page and show both your strengths and weaknesses
Just like talking to a personal, you sound arrogant when only boasting about your qualities.
Don’t be afraid to show your vulnerable side (you’ve already seen Brené Brown’s TED talk, haven’t you?), people relate to that and trust you more.
That’s not to say you don’t want to convey confidence. Definitely talk about your skills and experience, if they’re relevant to your website visitors, but say it all in a friendly and humble manner, while always showing a desire to keep improving.
There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance, so do consider hiring a professional copywriter to help you with your site.
6. Make it easy for people to Contact you
Many photography websites are plagued by this problem. Having a hard time finding a way to contact you is one of the most frustrating things for your visitors.
Simply make sure your website has both a simple contact form and an email link (because some people prefer writing in their own email client).
And have your contact info (or just the link to the Contact page) present throughout the site (in the header and footer). If you accept phone calls, also include a phone number for people to reach you, that’s another trust signal.
7. Use blogging to showcase your skills and experience
Let’s imagine someone looking for a photographer in a specific niche. If your site has good SEO, they’ll find your website, look at your homepage and make a first impression (based on many other criteria discussed in this article).
If you passed their initial “first-impression test”, and you’re now on their shortlist, how will they actually decide on whether to work with you or not? They’ll simply dig around more, they’ll read more of your content to form a better opinion.
That’s where blog posts can really demonstrate value & trust. If a great opportunity for you to present your best work, to prove your experience, and to give them something worth reading.
Besides providing value, blog posts have the added importance of showing that you’re active, that you’re dedicated enough to keep coming back with fresh content.
If you feel that you don’t have time to blog (though have you really considered its importance?), at least link out to your social media profiles so that people can engage with you there.
8. Edit down your portfolio to only showcase your best work
Don’t dilute your featured galleries (or slideshows) by including too many images. Instead, keep the best ones to create the most visual impact.
Over time, people notice your commitment to quality and learn to trust your work.
Editing down images is very difficult, but this article should help you: The process of selecting images for a strong & coherent portfolio
9. Use an email address on your domain name
Using an emails address like email@example.com looks much friendlier and more professional that any of the free email providers out there (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.)
A professional email address proves that you’re not just a beginner or a temporary thing, but that you’re committed to your photography business.
Many hosting providers offer free email service along with your website hosting plan. Alternatively, hire a developer to help you create your new email address on your own domain using G Suite (formerly called Google Apps for Work).
The same principle applies to not having a logo, using free website tools (like WordPress.com instead of a self-hosted WordPress.org site), using default site themes (that thousands of other photographers use without customization).
10. Clean-up your site and test its entire functionality
First off, make sure that all the information on your site is up to date (contact info, product prices and shipping, bio, list of clients, etc.).
Also check your site for broken links (both internal and external) and test your contact and subscribe forms.
Correct spelling and semantics are important as well, you don’t want to appear careless. Tools like Grammarly can handle most of what a freelance proofreader can do for you.
11. Don’t bombard visitors with annoying popups
Have you ever visited a website where you’re “greeted” with a full-screen popup, without ever having the chance to see the content yet? Annoying, right?
Websites that are overloaded with pop-ups and ads will come across as unprofessional, to say the least. Of course popups work (and increase conversion rates), but those stats don’t really track all the people who loose trust and leave the site.
Focus on showing value to your visitors (through the quality of your images and blog posts) before asking them to take an action (like to subscribe to your newsletter or to send you a message).
12. Get an SSL certificate to serve your website over a secure HTTPS connection
Besides actually protecting your website, a green secure lock sign (in the browser’s address bar) acts as a guarantee that your website is safe.
To set your website to use the “https” protocol, you first need to get an SSL certificate from your hosting provider. Most companies offer them for free these days, but you have to check (it should be more than $50/year anyway).
Then consider hiring a developer to configure your website to always load over HTTPS and then properly test the website.
Implement these changes to move ahead of your competitors by showing that you can be trusted, and that your website showcases your work in a clear and honest manner.
If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.
– Zig Ziglar
Hiring a professional designer is a great first step, helping you to polish your online presence and optimize it for first-time visitors.
And don’t forget that quality is always a trust factor. However much you tweak your website design, the quality of your photography work is the one that ultimately makes people confident in their choice of working with you.