Shoppers more trusting of pretty websites, study says

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.

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It does make a difference, but the FUNCTIONALITY of the site is the key point. A pretty website that don't do anything is no good. A pretty website thats located by going to w3fcv.net/asu/bin/share/index2.asp is likely not a good choice.

a bit of common sense and some searching on the site works. I guess using the internet since before graphics were commonplace makes this challenge a bit easier.

Hm, that's probably true. If they did a good job on the UI their security must be good too. Scam sites also are sloppy looking.

Hm, that's probably true. If they did a good job on the UI their security must be good too. Scam sites also are sloppy looking.

I wonder how I could make the "uh, DUHHHHH" sound from "Drawn Together..." It's easy to spot a template or crapshop by the stock photography. If you see a photo with a bunch of people in suits, smiling directly at the camera, and they're of more than one race, you have a sh---y stock photo. If the camera angle is way above the subject's head and has them looking upwards at the camera- sh---y stock photo. Photos of stupid business metaphors or corny "cyber" abstracts? You got it- sh---y stock photo.

as a web site developer i know this is true and this is also backed up by the fact a trust professional looking websites and also ones which are not generic looking .. but being an experienced web user i know even the ****ty websites can be trusted it just comes down to what you kind research online and if they accept paypal (paypal = safest way to pay online IMO) but people need to be educated in to knowing that "pretty sites" can also be just as dastardly

SPEhosting said,
as a web site developer i know this is true and this is also backed up by the fact a trust professional looking websites and also ones which are not generic looking .. but being an experienced web user i know even the ****ty websites can be trusted it just comes down to what you kind research online and if they accept paypal (paypal = safest way to pay online IMO) but people need to be educated in to knowing that "pretty sites" can also be just as dastardly

How is PayPal safer than using my Credit Card? I don't pay for fraud and I can have it dealt with by the bank far easier than PayPal.

radwimp said,
I don't see how this is surprising. Typical human behaviour.

Seriously. I want to get paid for useless "research" projects that everyone already knows about!

It's just like if you walk into a very sketchy store, you probably won't buy from them. But if it's a really clean looking store, even if you've never heard of them before, you will feel safer buying from them. I'm not sure why anyone would think the same would NOT be true about internet stores.

Within 15 seconds a user knows if they will make a purchase from a website just from looking at it. This being said, the speed of the website, the grammar and most importantly if the website is calming and "pretty" to the eyes will really affect the conversion rates.

Kyle said,
Within 15 seconds a user knows if they will make a purchase from a website just from looking at it. This being said, the speed of the website, the grammar and most importantly if the website is calming and "pretty" to the eyes will really affect the conversion rates.

That makes me think of Barney from How I Met Your Mother:

A girl decides if she will sleep with you within the first 8 seconds of meeting you.

Apart from a very few occasions, I've always stuck with website that support one of the big checkout systems like Google checkout, Paypal etc..
I do however think there is a link between 'pretty' sites and secure / safe ones. A 'pretty' site usually means the company has money either to pay good designers or a good 3rd party to design their site?

ah good points .... but i have been offered thousands to build scam sites (obviously declined) some professional scammers out there will front the cash for a fancy site

SPEhosting said,
ah good points .... but i have been offered thousands to build scam sites (obviously declined) some professional scammers out there will front the cash for a fancy site

WOW.... Were they upfront about the sites being scams?

Sure, visual appeal has some to do with it, but for me, I really go by the content - if there are misspellings, grammatical errors or boilerplate legalese in the terms and conditions sections (or even if they don't exist at all) has a much more profound impact on my decision whether or not to shop somewhere.

metal_dragen said,
Sure, visual appeal has some to do with it, but for me, I really go by the content - if there are misspellings, grammatical errors or boilerplate legalese in the terms and conditions sections (or even if they don't exist at all) has a much more profound impact on my decision whether or not to shop somewhere.
+1
If it's not in Alexa's top 100, I ain't buying from there.

MS Lose32 said,
+1
If it's not in Alexa's top 100, I ain't buying from there.

Guess you won't be buying from newegg.com, tigerdirect.com, bestbuy.com or even buy shoes from zappos.com.

Matt said,

Guess you won't be buying from newegg.com, tigerdirect.com, bestbuy.com or even buy shoes from zappos.com.


Well I won't be buying from bestbuy.com... but that has nothing to do with them being reliable and not "stealing" my money haha

Matt said,

Guess you won't be buying from newegg.com, tigerdirect.com, bestbuy.com or even buy shoes from zappos.com.

I make an exception for Newegg but not TigerDirect. Too many bad experiences with TigerDirect. And Bestbuy? I don't like throwing money away.

Personally, I think it's true, and what about the web pages that look like generic templates for websites? I don't trust on them

daniel_rh said,
Personally, I think it's true, and what about the web pages that look like generic templates for websites? I don't trust on them

ya but I wouldnt consider that "pretty" just cause they are generic.. I think they are talking about sites Facebook vs Myspace a few years ago.. Myspace was definately not pretty and was unorganized and they eventually paid the price