It seems all too common to be asked for your credit card number on a website. Most of the time it is for a purchase but now sometimes your credit card is simply used to verify your identity. One would think that with this practice becoming ubiquitous that people would feel comfortable entering that 15 digit password to their finances.

A recent study by the National Federation for Credit Counseling found that today 4 out of 10 people still feel nervous when paying for something online1. This finding poses the question, what can we do to our web sites to make site visitors feel more comfortable.

We have all seen those badges on websites that show that the site has been “tested” for security breaches, sql injections, etc. with that reassuring invitation to “Click to Verify.” I’m sure by now that most of us on this side of things understand that these services only test against the most basic of hacker techniques and even the badges themselves are easy to forge. That being said the real question is not if such things keep our websites safe, our team does a much better job of testing anyway, but whether or not these make our customers feel safe. I often wonder if having the words hacker or alert on your website at all is a good idea. On the other hand the study sited above suggests that the uneasiness is already felt by the customer so you might as well address it. I know from my personal experience, as irrational as it may be, that a little time spent with a quality graphic designer who can create a polished site can instill more confidence in a user than any little badge any day.

Perhaps instead of paying for one of these badges a site could create there own “trust mark” that simply links to a page educating consumers about how they can test the site themselves by looking for that little lock in their browser, something that can’t be falsified. At any rate, this is surly a situation ripe for some serious A/B testing on a site by site basis, and another case in which consumer behavior may not always be predictable or rational.


One Comment

  1. Site seals provide consumers with a level of trust when the name brand isn’t nationally or regionally known. If you are shopping for a commodity product and simply looking for the lowest price, you might find yourself on a retailer site that is unknown to you. Before giving your identity and payment information on the site you have to ask yourself “Do I trust this organization?”. This is where a third party site seal (McAfee Secure, Verisign, Better Business Bureau, etc.) would provide some benefit to show that this is a legitimate organization.

    Not all site seals cost money. I would recommend that smaller retailers or organizations look into options for displaying these seals on their website. Worst case, the consumer ignores them because they already trust the retailer. But it could make the difference in an abandoned sale if the consumer just needs a little extra comfort in their decision.

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