How to Gain Your Visitor’s Trust with Proper Testimonials

Written by Craig Morrison - Get free updates on new posts here.

The other day I went to one of these trendy restaurants.

You know, the ones that look like the building was condemned up until 5 minutes ago when they opened up a taco place in it?

Either way, the food was delicious, but when it came time for the bill, it was cash only.

Cash only. What century is this?

I set out to find the closest ATM in this trendy neighbourhood, which was essentially the local crack mart up until 5 minutes ago when they opened up a taco place in it.

The only ATM I could find was inside the worst looking corner store in the area. No one was in it, the shelves barely had any supplies on them at all, and the guy behind the counter never even looked up at me.

This place was pure sketch.

And now I’m supposed to enter all my financial details into a 20 year old ATM sitting in the corner of this place?

Not a chance. Looks like my girlfriends paying for this one!!
Bonus: Short on time? Download all the important points from this post in the free Testimonial Design Checklist.


Sir, I asked for $20 and all it gave me was this bullet casing?

Even though I absolutely needed the cash from that ATM, I wasn’t willing to interact with it, simply because nothing about the machine or the store made me trust that it wasn’t just going to steal my money.

This is the same problem your visitors can run into every time you’re asking them to commit to something, such as signing up on your landing page or buying a product.

Testimonials help build trust with your visitors. And visitors who trust you are way way way more likely to sign up for your service or buy your product.

Today, I’m going to teach you everything you need to know about testimonials, including how to get proper testimonials from your users/customers, where to put them and how to design them.

Do you want to learn how to build trust with every visitor that lands on your site?

Why Do Testimonials Work?

It’s called “social proof” and how it works is kind of embarrassing.

Here’s the gist: people do what other people are doing because they assume it’s the right thing to do.

You’ve probably been guilty of it at some point in your life, wether you realize it or not.

For example, have you ever seen a group of people crowded around looking at something, and suddenly found yourself heading over there to check it out?

You weren’t just “curious”. All those people gathered around like that proved that it was something worth looking at, so you mindlessly joined in. What an idiot!!

Just kidding. I do this all the time. BECAUSE WHAT IF IT’S A PILE OF CUTE PUPPIES?!!!?



Testimonials act as “that crowd of people” and they work by reassuring people that since other people are doing it, and got value out of it, they will too.

This builds a sense of trust almost immediately because it’s telling your visitors “hey, these people paid me money and I didn’t even rip them off!! And they liked it!”

When a visitor trusts you, it builds your sites credibility.

Credibility is an extremely large part in creating a positive user experience. You want your users to be engaging with your product with the mindset of “this is going to be awesome!” rather than thinking “is this really something I want? Is this going to work?”

Users who expect greatness, and are delivered greatness, have a very positive experience, and are much more likely to convert and share and consume everything you throw at them form this point forward.

Testimonials = Trust = Credibility = Positive UX = Growth. Get it?

What Makes a Good Testimonial?

If the entire point of using testimonials is to create trust and increase the credibility of your product, then your testimonials must be made up of all the correct pieces that make them credible.

With that in mind, a proper testimonial should include the following:

Profile Photo / Video

I see a lot of testimonials that are just a big block of italicized text.

This is no good, because what makes this any different from the rest of the copy on your page? You could have easily just written that out and stuck it on your page yourself!

Of course you could just pull a fake photo and stick it on a fake testimonial also, but this would actually work better, because that’s the way the human brain works.

When we see a photo, especially of a face with eyes staring back at us, we make an emotional connection with the content it’s associated with.

Now that we have context for these words coming from a human, we have an easier time believing that what is being said is true.

The same goes for video, only it’s much more effective.

If you can get a video testimonial and fit it into your site, you absolutely should. Video testimonials instil an instant trust in people, because that’s a real live person talking about the product.

Real Names

This one seems pretty self explanatory, but use the person’s real, full name under their testimonial.

Nothing says “shady” like a testimonial from “Sandy P.” or “Mr. J”.

Again, it’s pretty common sense, but hiding anything from a visitor when you’re trying to make them trust you is completely counterproductive.

Applicable Job Title

Look, I’m sure your Mom and Aunt really love your new startup for searching social media hashtags, but does it have anything to do with what they do for a living? Probably not.

When gathering testimonials, make sure you target users and customers who are as closely related to your target market as possible.

If you sell chef knives, don’t get a testimonial from a developer at Google.

Why? Because people want to put themselves in the shoes of your testimonials.

They want to feel connected and related to them. If you’re buying chef knives, it’s probably because you have a passion for cooking.

Who do you think those people imagine being when they’re cooking up a storm in the kitchen? A developer, or a chef? Exactly.

Testimonial Design

All the elements of a good Netflix binge session. Also testimonials too I guess.

Celebrities or Influences

This is a big one. Using a testimonial from a celebrity, or from a large, trusted name in your field, creates a much more impactful trust between you and your visitors.

Why? Because they already trust that person. It’s trust through association.

This influencer has never lied to them in the past, and so if they trust you, then they will too.

This is why using celebrities endorsements, as cheesy and tacky as it gets, always works.

This is also why celebrates are dropped from endorsement deals when they do something immoral or illegal. Customers associate the celebrities behaviour with the product, because their word is only as good as their reputation.

Results Oriented Testimonials

How many times have you seen testimonials like this… “Craig was great!” or “This product rocks!” or “I’ll never use another product again!” ?

These testimonials suck.

Why? Because they don’t actually prove to your visitors WHY your product worked. That’s an important part, because that creates trust by proving the exact value you provided.

Great testimonials are stories, which are told from the point of view of your customer, that illustrate how the product solved a specific problem for them.

For example, the testimonial “UsabilityHour is awesome!” contains no story, benefits, value or problems what so ever. It could be a tree giving that testimonial and it would have the same impact.

Instead imagine it reading, “UsabilityHour helped us simplify our complicated signup process, and as a result, our user base grew by 300% in 1 month.”

Now it contains specific results that are tied to a value and benefit of subscribing to my newsletter.

Collecting these types of testimonials isn’t as easy as it sounds, but with the write approach, you can easily pull this information from your users.

How Do I Get Good Testimonials from Users?

First things first, don’t ask for a testimonial. All you’ll get in return is someone writing something they think you want to hear. That doesn’t help.

Getting a good testimonial from a user requires asking them the right questions and gathering the testimonial from their response.

Copyblogger has a great article on 6 Questions to Ask for Powerful Testimonials.

I’ve taken these questions and simplified them down, as I feel it’s a pretty big time commitment to ask your users to answer 6 questions.

First thing, it requires finding out if anything was preventing them from signing up. Chances are the hesitation they felt in signing up is the same as many other visitors who have yet to convert.

Addressing these objections within user testimonials will help visitors drop those hesitations and finally sign up.

Second, we need to find out the exact results the customer got after signing up for the product.

For example, here is an actual email script I’ve used for gathering testimonials at my previous startups:

Testimonial Request
Bonus: Short on time? Download all the important points from this post in the free Testimonial Design Checklist.

You might get what you’re looking for right away, but maybe not. Either way, it’s going to open up a dialogue that will allow you to narrow down the answers to those questions until you are able to get a great story from them.

If you’re happy with your response, be sure to follow it up with asking for permission to use their words in a testimonial, as well as getting the specific needed, like job title, full name and a photo.

Testimonial Design, Placement and Layout

I’ve said it once already in this article but I’l say it again, testimonials must be placed where they can be seen.

If you’ve got your testimonials stuck at the very bottom of your landing page, that’s not going to influence anyone to sign up.

In order for a testimonial to work, it needs to be in a spot that is close to your call to action. This way, when a user reads your call to action, they are able to overcome any hesitation they might have by seeing a testimonial right there to reassure them (which hopefully addresses their exact hesitation).

For example, on a landing page, I like to position a row of three testimonials directly under the main call to action area. I also like to encourage the user to peak down and see them by using an arrow to guide them.

Testimonial Design

This way, I can be sure that if the user has any hesitation at all, they’re going to see that little arrow, they’re going to follow it, and they’re going to read exactly what they need to read at that exact moment of hesitation.

But testimonials aren’t just for landing pages, they can be used anywhere on your site when you’re encouraging a user to take an action, including directly beside a call to action. These are sometimes referred to as click triggers.

For example, Neil Patel of Quicksprout uses testimonials in his sidebar when asking people to sign up for one of his products. It’s extremely effective.


Neil's entire ad IS a testimonial.

Neil’s entire ad IS a testimonial.

As for the layout, I strongly believe that the image should be how your testimonial starts. It should be large enough that the person’s face is easily distinguishable.

This way, people start by making an emotional connection before even reading a testimonial. This puts the user in the proper state of mind to accept what they are about to read.

Next should be the meat of the testimonial, what your user actually said.

Keep this short. Seriously. No long drawn out paragraph, no one wants to read that. This testimonial should take about 3 seconds to read. I know it seems quick, but it works.

Under that, list the person’s full name, followed by their title and if possible, a link to their company or personal website.

Be sure to style these so they are visually distinguishable. What I mean by that is, don’t make the name, title and website all the same size, bolded font.

Bonus: Short on time? Download all the important points from this post in the free Testimonial Design Checklist.

Let’s Summarize

A major part of creating great user experiences is the credibility factor of your product. If a visitor lands on your site, and feels that you’re untrustworthy based on your design or lack of social proof, they may or may not be willing to purchase from you or sign up.

But regardless of their decision, if they are having doubts in their mind as to whether or not you’re credible, their entire experience will be tainted.

Without knowing it, they will be actively searching for the mistakes you’ve made in order to validate their feelings of mistrust.

By utilizing the power of testimonials and social proof, we can creative a positive experience by putting your users a trusting state of mind, and have them instead actively searching for the reason why they love your service.

Download a free checklist of the most important lessons we’ve covered in creating a proper testimonials in the bonus section below.

On top of the checklist, you’ll also get the free HTML template of my own personal testimonial designs, as well as a free email script you can copy for gathering testimonials from your users.

Click here to download all the testimonial bonus items now.

Testimonial Design