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Prove It: What Makes You Trust a Website?


  1. Matthew
    Posted February 6, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    My first instinct was to explain why I like a website. But I realize it’s not how attractive I find the site. It’s about the content. There are many sites I trust that are downright ugly. But I like the content.
    Things that make me trust a site:
    * The content is reviewed for obvious typos.
    * The articles are posted by individuals willing to take personal responsibility for the post.
    * When commenting is allowed the administrator allows unfavorable(but not abusive) posts.
    * The person posting articles acknowledges readers and thanks them for correcting mistakes in the posts.
    * I don’t mind advertising that is relevant to the content and tastefully displayed(no flashing banner ads)

    • Posted February 6, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

      I like the tip you offer on taking personal responsibility for the post and its content, including fixing things. Excellent point.

  2. Posted February 8, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    Ads for me. Usually the sites a billboard. I’ll then check a few pages. Check there web of trust rating, and just how the content is. Most sites unsurprising fail.

  3. AstroGremlin
    Posted February 12, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Fabulous evaluation of the elements that engender trust on a website. I love that the list of telltale signs includes “You just know.” So true. :) But identifying what specific elements come across as “shady” . . . well, obviously the point of the article.

    • Posted February 12, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      It would be fanscinating to really dig down deep with research that actually pinned down the “you just now” effect for everything including website trust.

      I do know that one of the most hated and distrusted things on the web is people not using their real name or an appropriate pseudonym that sounds “real.” It comes up in every test I’ve done as not endearing or enabling trust and those who choose to use such names have to work extra hard to build trust, something they wouldn’t have to do if they used a pseudonym. Their point would still be made without the name agenda. I find that even more fascinating. What is acceptable on forums and Usenet groups and the gaming world isn’t in the “real” world of web publishing.

  4. Posted February 23, 2012 at 3:29 am | Permalink

    I have a small personal blog and enjoy following many others. In the past month or so one of the travel blogs I had been following for about 5 months suddenly started looking like she was writing to get paid versus her previous fun “this is how my vacation here went” writing. I suspected something was up, but held on to a hope that this wasn’t so. Last week she changed the name of the blog, has sponsors, has ads and contests to win trips… So disappointing! I am no longer “following” her blog. It seems so commercialized and is quite focused on “things” instead of the travel aspect of the blog.
    In regard to errors… I agree 100% and found one a few minutes ago on my post from this afternoon. I will have to change it. It is easy to make errors when typing on an iPad and I am usually so careful about proofreading before hitting the send button!

    • Posted February 23, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      Excellent point. When people change topics or course, or begin to get paid, we always get suspicious of their motives. While it is awesome to get paid to blog, full disclosure is necessary. If she had brought you all along for the journey, explaining how the sponsors and process happened, then you would have probably gone along with it. Instead, she made the assumption that you would either not care or support her because you cared so much. Clearly, she has misread her audience. Those with those attitudes will continue on, but good on you for paying attention and not letting yourself be swayed.

  5. Posted February 23, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Interesting ….

    I guess the only thing that gives me trust of a website is its logic.


    • Posted February 23, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      LOL! Well, maybe. Logic is also a perception. Personally, I’d say I’d trust my instincts so I’m curious how do you define “logic” in this case?

  6. Posted February 24, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    It really is about the content. We get so obsessed with design and how things look (which are certainly important, because they lead us to the content), but my ultimate trust earner or breaker is the words on the site. Are lots of them ads? Can I quickly find out what I want to know?

    Maybe I’m biased because I’m a copywriter, but words really do make or break a website for me.

  7. Jen
    Posted February 25, 2012 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Ads don’t turn me off, in fact I don’t even see them anymore. Typos, articles that are obviously spun, no focus, are the things that make me turn away. On the other hand if a friend recommends a website to me and it has those things I will ignore the desire to leave until I have read at least a couple of posts. Word of mouth still works for me.

    • Posted February 25, 2012 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      @Jen, excellent point. Few of us see them any more which is why advertisers and designers are working even harder at getting your attention with moving, flashing, blinking, and horrid colors. These are all things that violate web standards for accessibility as well as federal laws in many countries. Does it stop them? No, but the rest of us can fight back by not relenting to the pressure to do this ourselves and not supporting those who do. Only our money and voices will change things.

      I’ve never understood why people persist using design elements that continuously top the most hated design elements on the web. Go figure.

  8. Posted February 29, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    I like the “you just know” item in your list. I never really thought about that before, but I definitely rely on that instinctive response when browsing the web – though obviously not exclusively.

    Excessive advertising, including copy that is written like an advertisement, are definitely on my list of trust destroyers too. I don’t care is a site utilizes advertising (though I typically ignore it), but I do hate when advertising is in the way of content.

    I guess overall presentation matters to me as well for trust. This would include a real person writing, useful about pages for both the site and writer, decent grammar, etc.

    Interesting post overall though, as this is not something I have thought lots about before. Obviously we all make these decisions many times each day while browsing though.

  9. John Pratt
    Posted March 8, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    People are now becoming more and more wiser when it comes to figuring out if the site is something that can be trusted or not. Yes, the “I just know” thing always turn out to be right. If one sees that something just doesn’t add up, they usually leave the site in a heartbeat. Glad you made that point. :)

  10. Jeff
    Posted March 19, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle,

    I think you are good in stating what seems to be a subconscious automatic response. When I visit a site and skim through the articles, I know right away if the owner knows what he is saying, likes what he is saying or if he is only after for an adsense click or an affiliate money.

    It is more an intuition. You just know it without knowing how or why.
    And your site is a real deal! Thanks for the article.

  11. remo
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 5:05 am | Permalink

    Question; What makes you trust this site?
    Answer; Too many ads or advertising in general…

    I don’t understand your question. Shouldn’t you ask “What makes you distrust this site?”

    • Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      Thanks for catching that. A phrase was left out in the editing. Good catch.

  12. Posted May 1, 2012 at 2:41 am | Permalink

    Interestingly, since this post was published the first three points…

    * Too many ads or advertising in general.
    * Little or no original content.
    * Too much design and too little content.

    …have all been incorporated within Google’s ranking algorithm. I just posted about it.

    In a nutshell, for better user experience – and SEO – you need to make sure readers don’t have to play “hunt the content”. Few of us would do that intentionally but sometimes in an effort to squeeze an extra bit of ad money out we can overpower the design & content – and our visitors.

  13. Posted June 24, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    I can get a sense of trust for a website by looking to see if there is a community around the site. The quality of articles and the frequency of the articles published are important, but just as important is the quality of the comments. Quality comments help me feel a sense of community and help me to trust the website.

30 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] Prove It: What Makes You Trust a Website? […]

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  10. […] recently read a blog by Lorelle VanFossen, a popular WordPress blogger.  She provides a wealth of information about what makes people trust […]

  11. […] a great blog post over on Lorelle’s blog about Design credibility on the web, which I highly suggest reading, and digs deeper on why we […]

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  15. […] her article titled Prove it: What makes you trust a website, Lorelle discusses the idea of trust and how it relates to the web. At first glance, I was […]

  16. […] Lorelle on WordPress has written a very though blog on this issue and offers many suggestions from various sources. Suggestions are often directed to different types of sites such as a corporate business. It mentions that corporate businesses should make their site more personable by having the chief executive officer write a monthly blog. This would be the hardest to pull off in my opinion. Not many chief executive officers are willing to share much of themselves on the internet, much less have them write a monthly blog. Alternative ask them give you a personal letter/message to post on the site. Afterall, not all CEOs are like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. […]

  17. […] trust in their product if they would focus on how their site design is being conveyed. The site Lorelle has an interesting article out on the web that talks about how we trust websites and how design can […]

  18. […] Lorelle VanFossen has written a great article to help answer that. When she was searching for reasons of why we trust sites, one of the responses […]

  19. […] Design and Credibility are crucial to a website. It takes no longer than a second for an user to decide if he or she will continue to stay and view the website or change to another website. There are many factors contributing to this. Web design encompasses many different skills and disciplines in the production and maintenance of websites. The different areas of web design include; web graphic design, interface design, authoring; including standardized code and proprietary software, user experience design and search engine optimization. Often many individuals will work in teams covering different aspects of the design process, although some designers will cover them all. The term web design is normally used to describe the design process relating to the front-end (client side) design of a website including writing mark up, but this is a grey area as this is also covered by web development. Credibility refers to the objective and subjective components of the believability of a source or message.As defined by So what does make you trust a website? Here are three things that helps make you trust a website according to Lorelle on WordPress: […]

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  21. […] company to make sure I could trust them, I would have taken my search elsewhere. In Lorelle’s blog on this subject, she asks you what makes you trust a particular website? What is it about the site […]

  22. […] On the popular WordPress blog website “Lorelle on WordPress”, Lorelle VanFossen wrote a series of Prove It! Campaign articles, including “Prove It: What Makes You Trust a Website?” You can read the entirety of the article here: […]

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  25. […] trustworthy information from websites, and how websites can make people give trusts to them. I saw an article talking about the reasons that can make a website lose trustworthiness, and these reasons are […]

  26. […] done much informal research into what makes someone trust a website and the answer boiled down to, “you just know it when you see […]

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  28. […] others jump to conclusions (for better or worse). I’d also be remiss for not recognizing how much Lorelle VanFossen’s work contributed to this […]

  29. […] Prove It: What Makes You Trust a Website? […]

  30. […] in terms of credibility?  How do you get people to trust your website?  In reading the article ‘Prove It: What Makes You Trust a Website?’, those were some of the questions discussed.  One of the reasons to not trust a website is […]

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