Very good thread that I hope gets more responses is being discussed over at Cre8asite Forums, about the nature of simple websites that help communcate and instill trust in visitors. A recent article talks about how people trust simply designed websites, and that having a plain text, unadorned format seems soothing and trustworthy as something that is plastered with gaudy graphics and fast talking content.
Some of the members detailed their own options, specifically how this concept is also used in engineering, that if something looks "good" then it must be good. The member radiorental details some mental steps one might take when viewing a simple website, such as:
In this case, the brain makes the following assumptions that lead to trust 1)front end looks simple therefore the backend must be 2)If backend is simple then there is less to go wrong 3)if its less likely to go wrong then I trust it will not.
simple = trust
This makes sense, and I know myself I have often gone through these steps in websites I have visited. Deciphering the technology behind the scenes can take up some of your thought time. You want to figure it out, and translate that into how well you might trust what they are saying or what they are doing. If it looks to complicated and there are questionable underlying reasons why they want your business, email, or information then I don't put my trust in them.
I recently had a discussion with a colleague about simple and ugly websites and how they are effective in selling. Ugly websites do sell, but only when that ugly isn't too strong. Simple websites do help sell because of trust, but only when they aren't too polished and actually make an effort to sell without all the glitz and glitter. The interesting thing is when it comes down to it, how we present our website whether it be personal or professional tells a lot about our motives. Many professional or company websites out there are very polished, old school, nice business sites, but what does a professional website say = its got commercial motives (most of the time). A good example of a large site that does quite well and whose simplicity helps build trust is craigslist.com. It's as simple as you can get, but very indepth with a focus that could translate trust to help the visitor reach the information they are looking for. No guady graphics, no advertising on the homepage, just simple trustable links and information that can't be maligned with something else. Upon your next redesign or new website, you might take some of these ideas into focus, because you might be stuck with a design for quite awhile.
Read the original article that prompted the threads - Where web surfers go when they haven't slept a wink