Friday, April 6, 2007

Your Customers Judge Your Web Site By Its' Cover

Assume you just acquired a new puppy. You walk into your local Barnes & Noble store (gosh, does anybody go into a bookstore anymore?) to look for a helpful book to learn about your dog. You go to the section showing the current top books. You are not sure which book to purchase.

"All credibility, all good conscience, all evidence of truth come only from the senses."
--Friedrich Nietzsche

You rapidly glance up and down the book rack and eventually one cover catches your attention. You reach out and grab the book to look more closely at the front and back of the book jacket. In the space of 15 to 60 seconds you have determined whether or not the book might be the book for you.

You are an expert at judging a book by its cover. In seconds your brain has determined if the book looks interesting, if it looks like it meets your needs and if it appears credible for what you want. This is a skill that everyone has honed over the years.

Credibility Is Critical

Credibility is essential in that which ever book you choose must meet your expectations of believability. Book title such as, "How to earn $34,898 showing your dog at dog shows," or "How to create the perfect life for your dog using peanut butter and a smile," or "How to train your dog in just 30 minutes," might not be credible in your estimation.

Credibility Occurs In Subjective Layers

The first layer of credibility is often visual appeal (is the book visually appealing?), followed by the organization of the book (is it easy to navigate?), followed by competent content (i.e., is the information useful?), and so on.

The same subjective criteria applies to your web site. If you want to earn money from your web site visitors you must create sequential layers trust in your company. When visitors come to your site they apply this same observational technique to your site. The visitor arrives and "judges your book by your cover." Their first analysis is pretty simple... Does your site look like a professional mortgage site?

How to Create Visual Credibility For Your Web Site

Are You Really A Dog?

There is a famous New Yorker magazine cartoon, by Peter Steiner ( ), about the web, showing two dogs at a monitor with a keyboard, and the caption reads, "On the internet, no one knows you are a dog."

You don't want your visitors to wonder if you are two teenagers in Poland trying to get you to apply online so they can take your information and sell it to identity theft bandits. You have to IMMEDIATELY demonstrate that you are a credible organization.

If you can show that your web site is for a "real" organization, this will remove doubt from your visitor and increase your site's credibility. The fastest way to do this is by listing a physical address and phone numbers. Increase your site's credibility is by making your contact information available on each page. That information should include your direct phone number, your toll free number, your physical address and your email address.

Provide direct links to organizations you are affiliated with, such as NAMB and your local chamber of commerce. Very few people will follow the links to external organizations, but by providing them, you give a higher degree of mental certainty, trust and comfort to your visitor.

Also include a staff directory and a list of your offices if you have multiple locations. If staff members have unique qualifications (Certified Financial Planner, 15 years in the industry, President of the county mortgage broker association) include that information as well.

In short, make it easy to verify who you are and the accuracy of the information on your site.

"To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful." --Edward R. Murrow

If you want to conduct commerce on the internet your web site must be credible and it must be accurate. If you show your interest rates (you would be foolish not to...), be sure to update them as soon as you change the percentage. You do not want a customer contacting you about that 3.5% start rate, when it is now 4.25%.

"To his dog, every man is Napoleon; hence the constant popularity of dogs."
--Aldous Huxley

Your dog may love your web site unconditionally, but if your web site looks like it was created with FrontPage 98, by your next door neighbor's kid or by an employee who left years ago, well, then it is time to get a web-lift.

For online mortgage leads please visit our mortgage leads page.

Originally published June 2006.

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