What Should You Look for in a Web Design Firm? A Focus on Trust

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Scott Baradell

I led the development of a corporate website for the first time in 1996.  I ran more than a half dozen designs and redesigns on the corporate side before starting my own agency in 2005. In the past 15 years, my team has created or maintained more than 100 sites. Before Idea Grove got too big, I usually wrote the copy myself.

So I've been around the game long enough to know what works and what doesn't. I haven't always been able to articulate it well, I must admit. It was often, "I know it when I see."

But I think I've finally figured it out. And it's actually pretty straightforward.

When you're seeking a web design firm to lead what is likely to be the single most important marketing project for your company in this or any year, look for an agency that practices trust-centered web design.

What is “trust-centered web design”? I can best explain it by way of contrast.

When you hear the pitches of most web design agencies today, they usually fall into one of two camps:

  1. Some firms try to wow you with visually acrobatic designs that have a similar appeal to a fireworks display. Boom. Bang. Pop.
  2. Other agencies talk about transactional lead generation. They seem to think telling your company's story is a simple arithmetic equation. Input content, output sales. It doesn't work that way.

The reality is this:

If your visitors don’t believe you, nothing else matters.

That means your first priority should be to find an agency that understands buyer trust and how to achieve it. Does your design firm truly understand your business, your product, your customers? Does your design firm understand the trust signals that make a visitor want to learn more about you?

If not, the visual pyrotechnics and lead-gen formulas mean nothing.

This Quora answer details 39 trust signals that your website should probably include. Has your design firm shared these with you or explained their purpose and importance?

If not, why not?

It's a question to ask yourself before starting your next redesign.

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