The importance of trust

by Martin Reed on 14 March 2007 in Snippets

As I have touched upon in a previous post, it is essential that visitors to your website feel that they can trust you. This doesn’t have to be to the extent that they email you asking for you to look after their children on a Saturday night, but there should be a basic foundation of trust between you and your users.

Trust is the foundation of any relationship, and a relationship is exactly what you are looking to establish with your users. Right from the very first seconds of visiting your website, a user is deciding whether they can trust you. Are your articles or posts trustworthy? Can they trust you with their email address? Can they trust you to safeguard their privacy?

For a community site this is especially important. I have come across communities where admins freely publish private messages sent between users onto the public forums. I have seen chat room admins share IP addresses of users to all members. This is completely unacceptable morally and it is unacceptable if you want to build an online brand that people will trust and develop loyalty to.

I feel that a comprehensive privacy policy should always be published on your website. This should clearly detail what information you collect from users, and why. It should also detail how a user can get in touch with you in order to remove personal information you hold on them. If a user requests their account be deleted, you must do so. Sure, you can ask them why they are leaving the community but at the end of the day you must respect their decision and remove their account.

If you have moderators or other staff members / volunteers you must make it clear to them that they must not reveal personal information on users to anyone at any time. This is privileged information and you should ensure that you and your staff treat it as such.

If your users can trust you, they will feel comfortable as a member of your community. They will refer their friends and return to your website time and time again. Ultimately this is the goal of any community site. Be trustworthy, and reap the rewards.

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Bollywood October 1, 2007 at 11:27 pm

Trust is very important , espacially for google .. a “trust” website is seen by google crawler freely and many times in a day.

Martin Reed - Blog Author October 3, 2007 at 8:28 pm

Bollywood – The ‘trust’ that Google places in your website is different to the trust you want to instil in your users, but you make a valid point nonetheless.

Personally, my priority is always to please my human visitors before I even consider the opinions of the search engines.

abbigliamento October 27, 2007 at 5:53 pm

The only way to earn trust is to have more and more visitors.

Martin Reed - Blog Author October 29, 2007 at 9:29 pm

abbigliamento – I disagree. Simply having a huge member count doesn’t mean you automatically earn trust. What if all those members are spammers and hackers?!?

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