According to a study conducted by the University of Melbourne, users trust prettier websites more than sloppy websites. Dr. Brent Coker, author of the study, believes that the increasingly good looking and well-designed web has caused users to intuitively trust them more.
"As aesthetically orientated humans, we're psychologically hardwired to trust beautiful people, and the same goes for websites. Our offline behavior and inclinations translate to our online existence. As the Internet has become prettier, we are venturing out, and becoming less loyal."
Coker has been researching trends and patterns in e-commerce traffic and site design since 2007. The algorithms he uses take into account what he feels are seven primary measures of e-commerce website performance: visual appeal, trustworthiness, ease of use, search quality, information quality, information relevancy and load speed.
The results showed that online shoppers faced with a cluttered or slow website would likely opt to shop elsewhere, where it was easier to find the product they wanted. He compares this to human relationships, and says that our online behaviors are consistently becoming closer to what we’d expect outside of the digital realm.
"People are developing relationships with the Internet the same way we develop relationships with other people. Compared to five years ago, we are more trusting of attractive websites, less tolerant of websites that have irrelevant information, and more likely to introduce ourselves to websites that are new."
The proliferation of e-commerce and social sharing has caused a 30% drop in loyalty to online businesses, as shoppers are given more options and more feedback from friends and experts alike. As people become more opinionated about their choices, their trust for the options that they do like has increased by 20% since 2007. This is how competition works its magic, and why it’s more important than ever to develop websites that have the consumer in mind, both from a functionality perspective and a design perspective.