Trust Killers: 10 Ways You're Scaring People Away from Your Website

Image of Stephen Altrogge
Stephen Altrogge
Published: Nov 22, 2021
Last Updated: Jan 5, 2022

Note: forwards to this post.

In a perfect world, every online interaction and transaction would be problem-free. Every person and company would deliver on their promises, and there would be no such thing as defective products, fraud, or terrible service.

Unfortunately, we don't live in that world. Online interactions and transactions can feel risky at times, and every person has at least one story of being taken advantage of. People must take it on faith that the companies they deal with will keep their promises, send them the goods and services they paid for, and treat them fairly.

That's why trust is so important for your website: you need visitors to trust you before they'll buy from you, hire your services, or even sign up for your email list. Your website is often the first place a person encounters your brand, and the initial impression they get from your site can be the difference in whether they want to keep learning more or get the heck out of there.

In light of that, here are 10 trust killers that may be scaring people away from your website—and what you can do to fix those issues. 

1. Unprofessional Website Design

If your website looks like it was slapped together rather than carefully crafted, you're going to have a hard time convincing visitors you've carefully crafted the products you sell.

Poor website design is a trust killer and damages your credibility. Some examples of unprofessional design include:

  • Grainy or blurry photos
  • Gaudy colors
  • Hard to read fonts
  • Overly cluttered
  • Hard to use on mobile devices
  • Lack of cohesiveness with page layout
  • Buttons/links that don't work

If you want people to think that you are a trustworthy professional, your website design needs to reflect that. If you don't have the skills to create a well-designed, attractive site then you need to hire someone who does.

2. Poor Grammar or Typos

Similar to having an unprofessional site design, typos and awkward grammar convey a lack of professionalism and care. If you can't be bothered to make sure things are spelled correctly, it suggests to visitors that you also probably don't care about more important things.


People won't trust a company that doesn't put in the time and effort to make sure their site is spell-checked. If you have trouble with spelling or grammar, hire an editor to go over your site with a fine-toothed comb.

3. Poor Usability

The usability of your website is another big trust factor. If your visitors can't easily navigate your site or find the information they're looking for, they'll get frustrated and leave.

In terms of usability, here are some important factors:

  • Intuitive, easy-to-use navigation menus
  • Clear site structure where every page can be accessed within three clicks
  • Seamless purchase and checkout process
  • Quick page load time
  • Designed for both desktops and mobile devices
  • Important, frequently accessed links in the site footer

One way to test the usability of your site is to observe new users interacting with your website and have them share what they're experiencing each step of the way. This type of user testing can either be done in person or through screen recordings. You can then use the feedback you receive to improve the user experience of your website.

4. Lack of Social Proof

Remember when your mom would ask you if all your friends were jumping off a cliff whether you would too? As annoying as that question was, your mom was right about one thing: our behavior is often socially driven. We do what we see others doing. It's the bandwagon effect.

Hence the need for social proof on your website.

omg website

Lack of social proof is another trust killer. People are less likely to buy from, sign up for, or do business with you if they don't see other people doing it.

Social proof can take various forms, including testimonials, customer reviews, media mentions, client logos, influencer endorsements, etc. The more social proof you have, the more visitors will trust that you'll deliver on your promises.

Highlighting your social media profiles and the number of followers you have can also serve as social proof, though it shouldn't take the place of the types mentioned above.

5. No Trust Badges

Trust badges are icons or emblems that tell website visitors the third-party services you use or are accredited by, and they can be a quick way for people to determine if you're a trustworthy company.

Examples of trust badges include:

  • SSL certificate logos
  • Payment processor logos
  • Star ratings from review sites
  • Accreditations/certifications (Better Business Bureau, Google Partner, etc.)

Trust badges are especially important on pages where the perceived risk is higher, like a payment page. Make sure that you prominently feature trust badges on these pages to help increase visitors' sense of trust. 

boom pow bam

6. Unclear Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Your USP is the essence of what you do as a company. It's one of the first things your potential customers should learn about you and tells them what makes you different or better than your competitors. Your USP helps prospects quickly assess whether you can help them solve their problem. 

If your USP is vague or not easily visible on your website, most visitors won't stick around. They don't want to waste their time digging through your website in an effort to figure out whether you can help them in the first place. Make sure that from the moment someone arrives at your site, it's very clear what you do and how you help solve your customer's problems.

7. Over-The-Top Promises

Making promises that sound too good to be true is a big-time trust killer. They immediately make website visitors skeptical, just like the ones made on late-night television for fad weight-loss diets.

When you make promises your product or service can't keep, it sets you up for failure, frustrates your customers, and hurts your reputation. If your website promises what you can't deliver, your business won't last long.

Even if you can do everything you say, you should still stay away from over-the-top language to avoid putting visitors on guard. Be clear about what you offer and how it helps, and then rely on things like testimonials and case studies to convince your website visitors.

8. No Photos Of Team Members

People are naturally drawn to faces, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that website visitors want to see who works for the company. Without photos of real people on your website, you're missing out on an opportunity to humanize your company and connect with your customers.

A lack of photos is a trust killer and can make visitors wonder who really runs the company. It can also make it appear that you're hiding something that might turn visitors away if they knew who worked for the company.

Having a page that features photos and bios of your team members can help visitors see that you're a real company with actual employees and not just a front for a shady company overseas.

9. Difficult-To-Find Contact Information

It should go without saying that you need to make it easy for visitors to contact you, and if they can't it's an immediate red flag.

If someone is interested in your product or service, they want to know how they can get in touch with you. If your contact information is difficult to find, you're going to cause a lot of people to hesitate before they buy from you. After all, if they have a hard time just finding your contact info, what will it be like if they need to speak to customer service?

Make sure your contact page is easy to find from your homepage and includes your address, phone number, email address(es), and any other relevant info. If you really want to make it easy for people to contact you, consider implementing a chatbot that can help answer questions as well as connect visitors to a person.

10. Negative Publicity

While not technically on your website, negative publicity has a way of following you around and it certainly is a trust killer. Negative mentions of you on third-party sites, social media, or in the press are bound to come up when a person Googles your company.


There are several ways you can deal with this issue. The first is to address the negative publicity directly on your website, social media, or some other medium. If your company truly is in the wrong, clarify what you are doing to solve the problem.

If however, your company did nothing wrong and you are the victim of misinformation or a vocal, disgruntled customer, you will need to try to push those results down in search. Essentially, you want to own the front page of the search results for your company. This can be a challenging task if you're not well-versed in SEO and hiring a reputation management agency is probably your best bet.

Would You Trust Your Website?

Put yourself in the shoes of your website visitors for a moment. If you landed on your site for the first time, would you be inclined to trust the company behind it? Is it obvious that the company is run by trustworthy professionals who always deliver on their promises? Is it clear that many customers have had great experiences with your company?

Trust is hard to earn, especially on the internet. Your website is usually the first "trust bridge" a person must cross on the path to being a customer. Make sure that bridge is a sturdy one.

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