Your Website Content: A Matter of Trust

Your Website Content: A Matter of Trust

You’d think that when we aren’t writing website content, or working on website proofreading and editing, we’d find something to do that doesn’t involve the internet. But, like so many others, we often shop online. While our skill at finding bargains may not be as well honed as our ability to find grammatical errors, we still enjoy the quest.

We’ve already discussed the effect that spelling, punctuation and grammar have on a website—and how even a minor error can cause a reader to question the website’s credibility. Every bit as important, though, is the integrity of the text itself. Statements that are evasive and indirect can drive customers away for good.

When prospective customers physically visit a business, they instantly assess it before even entering the door. Readers landing on your website do the same, but the criteria can be wider and much more rigorous. Readers evaluate your credibility from the text you’ve used and the way it is presented. They determine your professionalism by the website’s design. And they decide whether to trust you based on a number of factors, but most importantly the words you’ve chosen—and those you’ve chosen to omit.

We were recently shopping for an antique mantel clock online. As you would expect, styles, condition and prices varied considerably. One clock we especially liked was on an antique dealer’s website. The dealer had written, “This clock comes with a winding key, but I don’t know if the clock keeps time.” A potential buyer could tell immediately that the clock most likely did not keep time, since all the dealer had to do was wind it to tell if it kept time.

We were sure to avoid buying anything on that site. It was a matter of trust. Maybe, we thought, the antique dealer wasn’t selling antiques at all, but cheap reproductions. Or he could be one of those sellers who claim they have shipped a purchase when, in fact, they have not. With all the honest online merchants who carefully protect their integrity, there is no reason to waste time with someone who isn’t candid and straightforward.

The clock seller could have still made a sale, though, by acknowledging that the clock did not advance time, and mentioning that it could be easily repaired—or used as decoration.

Whether they are buying a product or a service, internet users are savvy consumers. They can see right through hyped-up text and misleading descriptions. As you prepare your website copy, always keep in mind that you must earn their trust by making your descriptions concise, direct and—above all—accurate.


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