The aesthetic appeal of a website is more trusting for online consumers, according to a Melbourne University study.

The research found that despite the increase in online scams and malicious websites, internet consumers are 20 per cent more trusting of websites than they were five years ago.

However, while surfers may be more trusting, online shoppers are 30 per cent less loyal to online businesses than in 2007.

Author of the study, Brent Coker, from the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Business and Economics, said the psychology of consumer’s offline behaviour is being translated online where websites that are visually appealing creates a great feeling of trustworthiness and professionalism.

“People are developing relationships with the internet the same way we develop relationships with other people. Compared to five years ago, we are more trusting of attractive websites, less tolerant of websites that have irrelevant information, and more likely to introduce ourselves to websites that are new.” he said. 

”Our online lives are changing the way we think about shopping and interaction with others.

“Shopping offline is very different to shopping online. Offline we shop in a large room, with clear signage, and often a sales assistant. Online, however, what we want to buy is buried somewhere, and we’re left to find it on our own.”

Additionally, the research suggested that if a website has poor navigation or access to information, or is slow, that is, it takes more than two seconds to download, web surfers are more likely to opt against purchasing and navigate to an alternate website.