5 May 2010 | Team Tamar

Trust principles to alert users to fake websites

As specialists in Conversion Design we are continually developing techniques on how to engage with users, encourage trust and increase our clients conversion rates.

So with the alarming rise in websites selling fake designer goods, such as Ugg Boots or very poor customer service, we are well placed to advise consumers on what they should be looking for when trying to establish the credibility of a website.

Despite us all knowing not to trust something that is “too cheap to be true”, we are still losing out with many consumers having their credit card details stolen or not receiving anything at all.

So here are five trust principles to look out for when buying online:

1. Usability
Be fickle, no matter what the price, if you are having trouble finding what you need or the user journey is frustrating, then go elsewhere. Good online stores know that a usable site converts well and will invest in user testing and robust hosting, so they don’t disappoint their customers and encourage them to return.


Discount UK: Poor usability and design, very little product information or reviews and the copyright says 2008. It does show a telephone number and is the cheapest.

2. Customer Service
Always look for a telephone number. If a store is legitimate then a telephone number will be clearly available so they can respond to any questions they can’t answer online. Reputable brands take pride in their customer service and know that these questions can be a purchase decision maker, so a quick response is key.


Johnlewis: Outstanding customer service, telephone number rings straight to a helpful person, buying guide and 1 year guarantee. Smooth usability and clean & professional design.

3. Design
All websites are a reflection of the brand. Credibility will come from clear and consistent usage of the brand identity online and coherent design. If the site doesn’t “feel” right or look professional, then they probably aren’t.

4. Content
Content is a transparent give away to how credible a site is. Is the content fresh and up to date? Do they have an archive or back catalogue? Do they encourage feedback and consumer reviews online?


Amazon: No phone number available for sellers, but extensive, well presented and balanced reviews, 35 in total, strong usability and persuasive selling.

5. Research
If after checking against the above, you are still unsure or the sites credibility, but determined to make the purchase, search the website name. More users are using platforms such as Twitter to voice their frustrations, so it’s more than likely somebody somewhere will be voicing their annoyance to avoid it happening to somebody like you.

Team Tamar