Web design trends change over time. Fancy colors and patterns come and go. However, one element usually remains constant: trustworthiness. Above all things, customers expect a website that they can trust.

In 1999, Jakob Nielsen (co-founder of the Nielsen Norman Group) presented four ways in which trustworthiness can be expressed by a website: correct, comprehensive, and current content; quality of design; upfront disclosure; and connection to the Web. This article tackles how these can be used to communicate a website’s trustworthiness:

1. Correct, Comprehensive and Current Content

It is imperative that a website contains information that is correct, current, and as comprehensive as possible. If a website is offering house cleaning services, for example, it should contain not just pictures of cleaned houses, but also the cleaning tools or even the service providers themselves. Simply posting pictures of clean rooms might give the impression that these are just “generic” photos.

What’s more, misspelled words, typos, and incorrect grammar are a big no-no. These mistakes, no matter how minor, communicate incompetence and a lack of professionalism. Hence, it is wise to check, double check, and even triple check the data!

2. Quality of Design

Design quality pertains to the organization, visual design, and color scheme of the website. Most readers tend to prefer a simple, yet clearly labelled and organized website. Likewise, minimalist designs are easier on the eye than intricate ones, which could be quite confusing to the reader. In addition, color schemes should be representative of the product or service being offered. Shades of green, for instance, suggest a natural and relaxed atmosphere, which is useful in promoting a residential area or garden-related tools.

High-quality design is a result of careful planning, a deep understanding of the market, and expert skills. Although it’s tempting to go for the quick-build, drag-and-drop, do-it-yourself website, the results can often be substandard and amateurish.

3. Upfront Disclosure

Being “upfront” means providing specific information directly to the readers. For example, displaying a “Contact Us” tab with an address, email, and contact number conveys the company’s validity, accessibility and friendliness. Additionally, posting the actual costs of products or services is more appealing to would-be customers; it would also portray an impression of honesty and convenience.

4. Connection to the World Wide Web

Today’s customers are more picky than ever before. Before trying a new product or service, they typically search for reviews or check out what others have to say about it on social media. Thus, a website cannot stand alone; it needs to be connected to social networks, news outlets, and third-party review sites. While on-site testimonials are great in themselves, being visible in other sites helps express transparency and confidence.

Web design trends may be ever changing, but the need to communicate trust is constant. By ensuring that a website has correct, comprehensive, and current content; design quality; upfront disclosure; and connection to the Web — it is possible to gain people’s trust with just one glance.