I recently co-authored post doctorate research and an academic paper for the “International Journal for Human-Computer Interaction”. The paper concludes that a credibility based logo in conjunction with a credibility based landing page will increase conversion rates significantly. If not, over 90 percent of visitors will leave within 10 seconds according to Google Adwords:
“So you refined your keywords, optimized your bids, and written AdWords text ads that pull in tons of targeted clicks. But after looking at your Google Analytics reports you realize that your landing page has a bounce rate of 91%. This means that 91% of the users coming to your site are quickly glancing around and leaving deciding this site isn’t for them.”
Like most perception at an early stage, this is a visual thing. We make judgments based on first impressions of surface traits, from a person’s looks to his or her dress. The same holds true with the company logo and landing page design. It is all about trusting and feeling the company is competent. Collectively the stems “trust” and “expertise” work together and are known as a single word, “credible”. We judge the company behind the website “credibility” from a few visual cues at first glance. This is called “surface credibility” and is part of the study of Source Credibility Theory.
How does “credibility” work in logo and website design?
On the upper left hand corner of most websites is the company logo. It has design elements which communicate “trust “and “expertise”, again the two elements of “credibility”. The landing page also has design elements which communicate “trust” and “expertise”. The impression of site “credibility” will cause a visitor to move on within the site. The impression of site non-credibility will cause the visitor to leave. This is the conclusion of our research and academic paper.
What makes a credibility based logo design and credibility base website design? The logo and the landing page must non-verbally communicate “expertise” and “trust”. My 2007 Ph.D. dissertation on credibility based logo design states that if a company logo is designed to symbolize the company business, the assumption is that the company is an “expert” or is “knowledgeable” or is “competent’ about the company business.
For the “trust” factor, if it is important to know that the company can do the business it is in. An aerospace company wants to be known as on the cutting-edge of the business, has forward thinking management. Then the design form of the logo communicates these traits non-verbally in a contemporary design form. Other companies may want to express other trust traits which are expressed with another non-verbal form. This gets a bit tricky but a good design firm can do it.
For example, the design of the Crystal Clear Window Cleaning logo is highly credible. Note the logo symbolizes “window cleaning” the company expertise. The contemporary design non-verbally communicates trust that the company uses the latest window cleaning techniques and has a high service image which it does. The logo is also bold and simple which dynamically makes the credibility point.
Note too below that the Housen Painting logo symbolizes “house painting” the company expertise. The contemporary design non-verbally communicates trust that the company uses the latest paints, which it does, and is very efficient, which it is. Again, these trust traits are non-verbally communicated in a contemporary design style.
In addition to the logo, however, the Housen Painting website below continues communicating credibility on the landing page with the credibility based logo and landing page design working together. Tom Housen’s photo and examples of successful jobs continue Tom’s “expertise” and “trust” as the source of the website message. In contrast, many websites have happy customers which is nice but these are receiver or customer oriented, not source oriented.
Accordingly, our research found significant increases in conversion rates with test respondents as they trusted and perceived both Crystal Clear Window Cleaning Housen Painting as expert and trustworthy enough at first glance to interact.
This resulted in high conversion rates up to 60% in our research. That is what is necessary for significant company website sales. Both companies are very happy with the results of their credibility based logo and landing page design.
I did not reinvent the wheel about source credibility. I just applied source credibility in communication persuasion to logo and landing page design in my Ph.D. and post doctorate research. Here is how credibility works when people persuade, such as salespersons, in our everyday living. Source Credibility Theory (SCT) works in all communication persuasion and is based on the same linear model:
For example, I am (presumably) the credible source for this article. The message contains the words I am using. WebProNews is the channel of communication. You are the reader or receiver. As a website, the company is the credible source. The message is the text. The computer is the channel of communication. The visitor to the site is the receiver. In all cases, the more credible the source, or company, the more likely persuasion will occur. Ergo, the more credible the logo and website working together, the more successful the website will be.
Both the Housen Painting and Crystal Clear Window Cleaning logos are examples of using credibility—expertise and trust—- applied to logo design. Most logos do not do this. Just look around and I will prove my point.
Also, the Housen Painting website example extends the company credibility traits to the design of the landing page and subsequent secondary pages. My post doctorate research paper shows that a credibility based logo working together with a credibility based landing page produces higher trust and expertise than just the logo alone. Our research result was higher conversion rates every time.
Why is this a breakthrough in website design?
As stated, most websites do not use a credible logo or a credible landing page in their website graphics. The problem is like Google AdWords says: over 90% of visitors leave a website within the first 10 seconds.
This problem is now solved if companies and designers will learn credibility principles applied to logo and landing page design working together. Think about it. Websites today are like automobiles in the early 1900s. New advances occur each year. Applying Source Credibility Theory to the company logo and landing page design working together is a major breakthrough in website conversion rate performance and presumably sales.
Here is a link to the whole post doctorate research paper mentioned in this article.