Another important part of being a Trusted Expert is doing proper site maintenance. And I’m not talking about just doing testing, either – it goes further than that. Bottom line, you won’t be seen as a Trusted Expert unless your site is properly maintained. So here’s what you need to do:
1. Consistently check for broken links on your site. You won’t be seen as any kind of expert, much less a trusted one, if you’re asking people to click on links that then go nowhere. Pointing people to useful information can only help them see you as a Trusted Expert – just make sure that you regularly check those links to make sure they are still valid as well as adding new ones when you find them.
2. Make sure to keep all pertinent info updated. To give you an example, I was recently contemplating a purchase from an online retailer. They weren’t a large, well known brand name, but they looked like they were trustworthy and secure, and since they had the best prices for what I was looking for, I was willing to give them a try. So I clicked on the ‘About Us’ section, which gave me info about their history (good), where they were physically located (also good) as well as some testimonials (should have been good but….) The problem with the testimonials? The most recent one was from 2007. And just like that, I lost faith in the retailer, and decided not to purchase from them, because either they hadn’t had a good review since 2007 and so had nothing to put up, or they were too lazy to proper site maintenance and update their ‘About Us’ section more than once every 5 years or so.
3. Conduct some low-level usability tests. I’m not saying that you need to go through the whole exercise of conducting full-blown usability tests (unless you’re a fairly big retailer, and then you absolutely should invest the money in it.) But what you can do (for free) is recruit some friends or colleagues to do a few simple tests. Think about something that the average visitor to your site would want to do – either get information on a specific thing, or make a purchase. Then go through the steps needed to do that – how is the process? If you can get friends to do it who haven’t been to the site or performed that action before, you can get some very valuable feedback about how your user views your site, an d how you can improve their experience.
4. Ask your customers for feedback on their experience. And actually listen. A big part of being a Trusted Expert is building a relationship with your users, and becoming their go-to guy for whatever your niche is. So once you manage to get them there, listen to what they want. Maybe they liked most of it, but they’d prefer if you had user reviews for your product, or they’d like to see what shipping costs would be before they get to checkout. Remember, the site is for them, not for you.
5. Keep the site updated, but don’t change everything all the time. It can be tempting, in the name of staying current, to always update the site with the latest images and graphics. But if you change things too much, people won’t recognize it. If you invest the time in the design of the site at the beginning, then you won’t have as much trouble with it. Strive to maintain a balance between keeping things fresh and keeping things familiar. You want people to feel comfortable and trust you, but you also want to be seen as current. I know that was kind of vague, but it’s something I can’t give you strict guidelines for – just be aware of it.
A Trusted Expert is someone who is one the ball, and is always their for their users as a resource. By performing proper site maintenance, you’ll ensure that the people you’ve managed to bring to your site will continue to see you that way, ensuring a lasting relationship that’s beneficial to you both.