Why Being Ugly Hurts Your Credibility

The CarewrightCustom Website Design

“What does beer have to do with UX website design? Everything. Typography is to websites like water is to beer.”

Typography in website design

5 Reasons Why Your Website Design is Hurting Your Credibility – Part Five

So what makes people land on your site, say “EWWWWW” and bounce out in under five seconds? As we discussed earlier in this series, credibility is all about trust – and people don’t trust ugly websites. As it turns out, it’s human nature. We like beauty. Beautiful things attract us and ugly things repel us. In fact, a recent study of user behavior by Dr. Brent Coker, University of Melbourne, found: “As aesthetically orientated humans, we’re psychologically hardwired to trust beautiful people, and the same goes for websites. Our offline behavior and inclinations translate to our online existence.”

Types of Trust

When looking at patterns of consumer behavior, there are several kinds or “levels” of trust, ranging from “Presumed Credibility” to “I Trust You Like My Mama.” While few can attain the upper echelon of Mama Trust, we can, nevertheless, aspire to attain Demonstrated Credibility. This is particularly important for small businesses who don’t have the benefit of a brick and mortar storefront on Main Street. So what are the different types of consumer trust and how is trust obtained or verified?

Credibility Verifiers

Brand credibility is verified (Credibility Verifiers) in many different ways. I can think of four right off the bat:

1. Presumptive Credibility – what we think we know from brand name recognition or “name familiarity” – we’ve heard of them before

2. Reputed Credibility – we’ve heard “from the Grapevine,” e.g., third party “word of mouth” and online review forums like Google and Yelp

3. Superficial Media Credibility – what we gather from a cursory look at online marketing media, e.g., a business website or its social media activity

4. Confirmed Credibility, e.g. we’ve used a business and have our own personal experience from which to form an opinion about its credibility and trustworthiness.

Superficial Inspection In Brand Credibility

In the digital age of marketing, Presumptive Credibility and Reputed Credibility gets you a click into your website. However, it’s all for naught if once a user lands on your site it’s ugly. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? Well…wrong, to a certain degree. As far as website design is concerned, there are certain standards of design, that if achieved, are proven to enrich user experience. That’s what UX design is all about. One of those standards is navigation and we’ve already reviewed the importance of navigation in website design. So what are some other design aesthetics that are critical to achieve?

Typography & Color in UX Website Design

I was drinking an internationally award-winning beer that my Nephew made the other day when an interesting topic came up: water composition. He told me that when he brews, he recreates the water composition native to specific regions. So, for a Belgian ale, he’ll recreate the water composition from a specific region in Belgian, at a certain point in history when a specific ale reached its height of excellence. Seeing how surprised I was he said, “Well, if you think about it, water is the main component of beer – so it greatly impacts its flavor. What does beer have to do with UX website design, you may ask? Everything. Typography is to websites like water is to beer. It’s one of the main components of websites, besides color – and it greatly impact it’s “flavor” and digestibility.

Typography is nothing if not a creative expression of aesthetics. A “Saloon” font “just fits” on a website about the old west. It’s in this way that landing on a website with intelligent font utilization just feels good. When I land on a website with good typography I physically feel good. It’s like slipping into a pair of cozy, comfortable slippers or having a relaxing Zen experience. Fonts that are bad can have an equally visceral effect. They can be loud, overbearing, uncomfortable or just plain inappropriate for the content.

For example, if you were an architectural engineer, you wouldn’t want to use Baloo Bhai typeface as your website font.

Typography in Website Design


It is rounded and soft and better suited to a marshmallow or candy company. An architectural company would want to use a strong typeface with seraphs, as seraphs are themselves a sort of built-in architecture.

While a user may not be able to put their finger on why they don’t like the website – they’re not going to stop and scratch their head about it. They’re going to bounce.


Color is perhaps the next largest component in design aesthetics that affect consumer trust and credibility. Eighty-five percent of consumers say color is the primary reason they buy a certain product. Is is any wonder then that color is considered one of the most powerful tools in design? Did you know pink, for example, doesn’t appeal to male consumers and only a portion of female consumers? Did you know blue creates an emotional sense of trust and security? Hmmm…what color is Facebook’s logo, again? And why are Call to Action buttons red toned? Well, red increases heart rates, instills energy and encourages action. Why are young “Goth” kids attracted to the harshness of black? I’ll let you figure that one out.

The bottom line is, it’s human nature to judge a book by its cover – it’s neurologically hardwired into us. Over 48% of consumers will judge a website’s credibility by the aesthetic beauty of its landing page. If you’re a small business without a storefront you’d better have a beautiful website. You can’t get to “Mama Trust” without credibility and you can’t even attain Superficial Media Credibility if people are bouncing out of your website. Translated, that means if you have an ugly site you’re untrustworthy and bleeding clients.

The Carewright builds custom, beautiful websites at an affordable price. How is your website performing for you? Is it performing at all? Are you pretending to be a website designer in your down time? Get our Free SEO Analysis today and find out how we can help.