How To Design a Website That Looks Secure

By Cristina Ferrandez Sep 15, 2017

There is no way to separate web security concerns from the contemporary Ecommerce experience. In fact, for many customers it has become the primary concern when shopping online, and they are more than willing to choose an inferior product or abandon a purchase altogether if they feel that their information is at risk. The recent spate of high-profile hacks among mega-corporations has conditioned consumers to be wary in all cases, and they are more educated than ever about cybersecurity risks as they conduct more of their transactions digitally.

Therefore, it’s up to Ecommerce companies to not only install appropriate security measures to protect their customers, but also to create a website that intuitively gives the impression that it is secure. By incorporating the right design elements, frequently refreshing content and information and displaying links and icons appropriately, companies can create a web experience that will leave buyers with no hesitation when they make the decision to purchase. 

Employ a modern, but not trendy, design scheme

Most people who have even a passing knowledge of technology understand that digital security is a constant process. They know that it’s never possible to protect against vulnerabilities that you haven’t conceived of yet, and that software developers are frequently issuing updates and patches that are designed to respond to potential risks as they are discovered.

Therefore, the most secure websites are those where administrators install available updates as quickly as possible, and this ties directly into your web design as well. If your design scheme is reminiscent of a Geocities page created in 1997, then your customers can probably safely assume that you haven’t bothered to install vital security patches on your page either. They will go looking for another vendor who puts forward a visual digital presence that they can trust.

The good news is that updating your website with modern, sleek design elements is easier and less expensive than it’s ever been. Even if you can’t afford a full-service web design company, there are numerous templates available that will give your website a functional, stylish and timeless look. Timelessness is important as well, because while looking outdated raises security concerns, chasing silly design trends can make you look like a flash-in-the-pan. These trendy designs also don’t feel familiar to your average user, and they can be more complex to navigate. The best strategy is to populate your website with sophisticated design elements that are modern, but won’t look dated in a few months’ time.

Fill your site with up-to-date content

Once again, in terms of website security, appearances matter. And just as your design speaks volumes when it comes to a customer’s perception of your website, so does your content strategy. 

Aside from the fact that you should update your content consistently in order to provide ongoing value to your leads and buyers, doing so also demonstrates a commitment to regular maintenance throughout your site. When users see content that has been posted during the current week, it immediately sends a signal to them that your site hasn’t been abandoned, and it’s less likely that they’ll be exposing their personal info to significant risk by buying from you.

Keeping a regularly-updated blog is one way to accomplish this, but even if you don’t have an ongoing content creation program in place you can still show your users that refreshing your website—and therefore keeping up with security measures—is a priority for you. You can embed your social media posts, or include any recent earned media mentions on a press page.

Also, it’s crucial to ensure that all of the relevant information related to products and logistics is always up-to-date. When there are changes related to shipping information or product specifications, reflect them on all of your digital outlets as soon as possible.

Be transparent and forthcoming with company information

In a customer’s mind there’s a very clear delineation between the actions of a reputable company and a shady organization. Trustworthy companies include accurate and reliable contact information in several prominent locations on the website. They do this so that users won’t have to search high and wide for assistance in the event of an issue, and because they welcome feedback from buyers that they hope to create a long-term relationship with. This helps to automatically establish a sense of trust, because the customers see that you aren’t hiding from them in the event that they need you.

But hiding is exactly what shady companies do. Disreputable sellers give out as little information as possible, because they want to make as much money as possible before the house of cards comes crashing down. They’ll include useless email addresses, phone numbers connected to lines that are never answered, and they’ll avoid using physical mailing addresses whenever possible.

There’s no way around it: if you act like a shady company, buyers will assume you are one. If, on the other hand, you are forthcoming with your contact information, company history and other details, then they will most likely believe you when you say that you are serious about website security. 

It’s also a good idea to include options for on-demand help, such as self-service help directories and live-chat embedded in the website. Contemporary Ecommerce customers expect companies to address their needs at any time, not just during the normal customer service hours.

Link your various social sites for a connected experience

Social proof is a powerful force in the world, and companies would be foolish to underestimate its importance. The reason it is so powerful is because customers, like all humans, are communal in nature, and they look to each other for guidance and validation in their purchasing decisions.

This can be a great asset for Ecommerce companies, because social proof is an inexpensive and effective way to earn the trust of new customers. You can embed genuine reviews on your site to prove that other customers have had positive experiences with you. Just be sure not to fabricate reviews or delete unsatisfactory ones, because users can typically tell when they have been manipulated.

If applicable, you can also include testimonials and/or case studies from past customers who have turned into advocates for your brand. This is especially helpful if the testimonials include details about the strength of your website security, because details equal credibility. 

Also, it’s imperative to include clear links to all of your social media pages on the home site, so that users can see you have a connected and well-managed digital presence that spans multiple platforms. You can also use your social feeds to highlight reviews and comments from various customers, to show that you are willing to engage with your buyers in a public forum.

Display secure badges to increase trust

Secure badges may not seem very compelling on the surface; after all, it’s incredibly easy for anyone to steal an image or create something in photoshop that looks legitimate. However, they actually serve a very important purpose for the perceived security of your website, even if the customer doesn’t stop to examine them closely.

Web users have become accustomed to seeing secure badges on reputable websites over the last two decades, and their absence triggers an immediate red flag. However, when they are present, they will provide the customer with invaluable peace of mind as they enter their sensitive financial information into your Ecommerce interface. Check with your Ecommerce solution provider to ensure that you are always displaying the most recent security badges that they use, and remember to display your SSL certificate symbol as well.  

Make sure your checkout platform is integrated with the rest of the site

Imagine that you’re browsing a website and you’re about to make a purchase that you’re very excited about. So far, everything on the site looks above board. The design is well-done, product information is current and accurate, verifiable reviews are prominently displayed and links to recently updated social platforms are clear. 

Then, as soon as you add something to your cart and try to check out, you are redirected to a completely different domain that looks as if it has no connection to the company you were previously interacting with. At the very least, you would be concerned that some malicious party had hacked into their system in an attempt to steal users’ credit card information. This is why it’s paramount to utilize a checkout system that is connected with the other areas of your website.

It doesn’t matter if your checkout site is housed on a completely different domain, or if its design is simply different enough to give the perception that it’s not the same site; the effects will ultimately be the same. Cohesion throughout the entire digital experience is vital if you hope to instill confidence in your customers and build repeat sales.


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