The 4 levels of website trust

Louisa Dunbar - Founder June 14, 2022

The theory is that the level of trust required from users depends on the nature of the website or business. In simple terms, some websites/businesses need to work harder to gain users’ trust than others.

The following graphic helps to communicate this and distinguish the levels of trust required depending on the type of the website.

Graph showing trust levels required for different types of websites. From highest to lowest, the types are: transitional websites, lead generation websites, service websites and lastly resource websites

1. Resource websites

A website that is purely an information resource which perhaps just shares articles and insight, simply wants their users to read and buy-in to their perspective. Therefore trust could simply be achieved by having a professionally designed website. This alone could be enough to persuade users as most tend to believe what they read on the web very easily! However we’d also recommend adding citations or examples of expertise in the articles to help prove the theories mentioned. This would help achieve that next level of respect / recognition from users, and of course keep them coming back.

2. Service websites

Then there are websites representing service-based businesses. Their goal is more than likely to be getting users to fill in a form or call a number to enquire. Users will need to feel confident in the relevance of the business and trust that they’ll deliver the service they require. However as that initial contact doesn’t mean they’re committed at this stage, they’re still assessing you and can still choose to opt out when the conversation moves offline. Therefore they’re not entrusting everything in you at that first enquiry stage.
This kind of website merely needs to ensure that a level of baseline relevance and trust is there so they’re reassured that their needs can be met. We’d recommend a professionally designed website with testimonials, case studies and relevant accreditations to achieve this.


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3. Lead generation websites

After that you have the lead-gen sites. I’m sure you’re familiar with the ones that will give you something for free if you provide them with your email. These sites might have to work harder to gain users’ trust as users are getting increasingly savvy about the value of their email address. They’re skeptical of being spammed, not only by the company in question but also the possibility of other companies getting hold of the details shared here. These websites need to allay all these concerns and fears in order to gain the users’ trust enough for them to share their details.
Therefore we recommend all the previous suggestions along with reassurances of data protection and anti-spam. Also outlining very clearly how their email address will be used. Honesty is the best policy when gaining trust.

4. Transactional websites

Finally, the websites that need to work the hardest to gain users’ trust are ecommerce sites or any transactional type websites.
Users are committing to spending their hard earned money on these sites and assuming they’ve never visited the site before, they’ll see it as ‘risky’. Users  need to trust in the product they’ll receive, they need to trust that they’ll receive the product, and on time, that their details are safe, that they can return if unsatisfied and potentially more. The more concerns they have, the harder the site will need to work to allay these concerns and therefore gain the users’ trust.

So along with all the previous suggestions, the website needs to answer all these concerns through appropriate text, terms, other security assurances, good truthful photos or demos and so on.

In conclusion

Getting users to trust you is all about making them feel safe and warm. Websites are evaluated on this factor so it’s pretty important. However we mustn’t overlook competence and communicating this too.

How trust-worthy is your website?

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