Certification and endorsement

Membership of third party certification schemes is cheap in comparison to the conversions it can produce. Or just make up your own certification, promise, or guarantee.



B.J. Fogg, founder of the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, lists four elements to website credibility. They are presumed credibility (assumptions made by the user), surface credibility (first impressions of the site), reputed credibility (third-party endorsements), and earned credibility (built over time).

Trust logos fall into two of these credibility categories. Surface credibility is provided in part by a professional looking certification image with words such as “guarantee” or “certified” on it. For images provided by third parties, the certification is an endorsement of the site, which is a type of reputed credibility.

How to use certification

  • Find certification authorities that you can sign up for. Options might be the Better Business Bureau, SSL certificates via your site host or domain registrar, Truste certification of your privacy policy, and ratings and review companies such as Bizrate, antivirus companies, or industry accreditation programs.
  • Be sure that your certification image addresses your users’ concerns. Are they most worried about viruses? Your returns policy? Their credit card number’s security? Talk to this fear in the certificate you display.
  • Place the certification images wisely. Only use them at places during the interaction where users are likely to be looking for additional reassurance. Using them on every page might make them blend into the background too much and wastes space that could be used for other purposes.
  • Consider making up your own certificate, perhaps to advertise your site’s guarantee. The guarantee doesn’t have to be anything special, but having a logo makes it look impressive.