I was researching this for some of our own marketing, and found it interesting.

First, an old fact: 75% “of web users admit making judgments about the credibility of an organization based on the design of its web site”. [Source: Study by B.J. Fogg at Stanford http://credibility.stanford.edu/guidelines/index.html ]

This is interesting, but dated; my hypothesis is that these days, it’s even higher but also a more complex set of factors that determine trustworthiness. Many of us, by now, have seen thousands of websites and webpages, a barrage of ads, increasingly complex web-based systems like facebook, digg.com and so what instantly creates a feeling of legitimacy is a blend of proven design factors based on our society (i.e. dark or middle blue as a color of trust, for example, as compared to yellow (color for “value” or “cheap” or “bargain”)[note this is sociological; various cultures interpret colors differently]), and an ever-evolving set of more complex ideas like balance, lifestyle imagery (i.e. smiling family pictures, for example), trust logos, social media connection and perceived endorsements, and even factors like page load time. Add mobile media formatting issues, cross-browser, cross-OS issues and you see why having a best of class website is more complex than ever.

Here are the factors listed, however, this data is dated and surely limited in study; to be truly comprehensive one would do extensive multivariate studies over a sufficient sample size – one strong benefit to marketing online is that success is easy to measure and thus improve upon.

  1. Design Look (46.1%)
  2. Information Design/Structure (28.5%)
  3. Information Focus (25.1%)
  4. Company Motive (15.5%)
  5. Information Usefulness (14.8%)
  6. Information Accuracy (14.3%)
  7. Name Recognition and Reputation (14.1%)
  8. Advertising (13.8%)
  9. Information Bias (11.6%)
  10. Writing Tone (9.0%)

And that said, there’s more at stake regarding first impressions.

Studies have shown these evaluations are made in as little as 1/20th of a second [Source: Dr. Gitte Lindgaard, Nature Magazine] and trending faster with younger generations.

Last, how one even gets to your site plays a part in the overall conversion – check out http://certifiedknowledge.org/blog/traffic-does-not-convert-the-same-seo-vs-ppc-vs-press-releases-vs-social-bookmarking/

Conclusion: If you’re a business owner, the web is getting more complex, with more at stake, and you need a great team in your corner. Effectively and profitably marketing on the internet is already far beyond a simple in-house project and requires a diverse set of skills and technologies working as a synchronized whole to drive results.