When you walk into a brick-and-mortar store, you expect to find a person there to greet you. Likewise, when you surf a website, you assume there’s a person behind that website to help you if you need it. However, during my time working in web development, I came across many “vending machine websites”—websites without any information about who owned them, sometimes not even a way to contact someone. Instead, the sites were all about prices and transactions.
Maybe you’ve heard these axioms before; ‘people do business with people, not companies,’ or ‘people do business with people they like, know, and trust,’ and while they’ve become clichéd, they’re no less true.
The internet can be cold and impersonal, but there are simple ways to put a personal touch back into it, and the personal touch goes a long way toward building trust and lasting business relationships. Using your About page to make a good first impression and establish trust is a key ingredient of an effective website.
Using Your Website to Build Trust
The more your customer knows you, the better they can decide if they like and trust you. The more your customer trusts you, the more willing they are to take a risk with you. Here, “risk” means establishing a business relationship, or buying from you. Plain and simple: if your customer likes and trusts you, they are much more willing to do business with you.
A website is a powerful way to do business and build your brand. Your website should not be a vending machine. In the world of e-commerce, nothing raises red flags faster than a website that makes it easy to spend money but difficult or impossible to have a human interaction. A photo, and a short bio along with a readily available method of contact are all signals that you’re willing to have a real relationship with someone.
Making a Good First Impression
Remember, you’re establishing trust. This is the first chance your customer has to meet you. So when I’m asked, “Do I need a photo of myself on my website?” I say, “Yes, absolutely. You’re meeting your customer for the first time.” The website is just the medium connecting people together. Putting a little bit of personal information on the About page is a step in reestablishing the personal element that’s missing with online business, and the photo is just as necessary for the same reason. The good news is that you don’t need to spend a lot of time or money to get a good photo of yourself.
Your photo should show who you are in a way that’s relevant to your business. Remember, we’re trying to recreate the natural setting of a face-to-face interaction. If you’re meeting someone for the first time and you want to make a good first impression, you will smile, and (if you’re wearing them) you will take off your sunglasses or your hat to better show your face. The same etiquette applies to your photo. Ask yourself, is this how I would want to meet my customers for the first time? Is this how I would greet them in person?
Who Will See Your Photo?
Plenty of people—most—will want to use your website just to get something done and move on with their day. But the About page is the first place a person will look when they want to spend a little more time on your website.
So ask yourself, why wouldn’t you take that opportunity?