An SSL certificate can be used to encrypt data. I see a lot of websites that use an SSL certificate, even though they don't need to encrypt data since no confidential data is sent.

Why do they do this? Some websites use SSL certificates only to get the trust of a visitor. SSL certificates which will show a green address bar or so are more expensive.

I saw this thread: Does SSL on a company's website make the company appear more credible? but I'm not necessarily talking about a company.

But does it really improve the user experience?

4 Answers 4


Whilst obviously important to protect sensitive data, SSL certificates can provide an alternative service for site owners.

If you consider a SSL purely as an element in interface design, it is something that users quickly recognise and trust. This immediately creates a positive reaction when viewing the site.

Users are constantly informed about online security via news, social media and work collegues so a small respite, knowing they will be fine during their interactions with you, sets them at ease.

I have had clients request SSL even when their sites do not send or contain sensitive data. I have always agreed for this very reason.

The cost is minimal, therefore if it can contribute to a more pleasurable experience of using the site it is a worthwhile purchase. It also future proofs the domain for when you do eventually need to include sensitive data.


Interesting question.
On this website I've found some interesting data (links to original reports are on the website):

  • Blue Fountain Media saw a 42% increase in sales after adding the VeriSign symbol in their "Request a Quote page" (A/B test).
  • VeriSign prepared a case study showing a 30% increase in conversions for Central Reservation Service, an online hotel booking site.
  • USCutter reported an 11% increase in sales by adding a Norton Secured powered by VeriSign logo (though it didn’t provide the specifics on any increase in conversion rate).
  • VeriSign also reported a significant increase in conversion rate for CarInsurance.com after implementing an EV SSL.

If we assume that only a small number of users is actually able to verify if the SSL code is used or not, we could say that yes, SSL certificate badges increase the trust of a visitor and, as a result, conversions (at least if we use a badge that the user can recognise - e.g., Verisign).

On the website linked above you can also find links to the original studies and a number of additional case studies about testing an SSL badge as a way to improve conversion rate.

  • 1
    Welcome to the site @Eleonora! +1 for citing a source and summarizing the link content. Aug 5, 2014 at 20:20

Most website will have users and login process if nothing else. Without an SSL certificate it is very difficult to ensure the security of the usernames and passwords transferred - in fact it would be best to assume it does not.

Additionally even if you only have publicly displayed content your users would have no assurance that the content hadn't been changed on the way to them. For example a news site could have it's stories changed by someone with access to the network (such as their government or network admins). This could also be used to "inject" attacks against the user:

  1. User accesses trusted site A
  2. Attacker has control of free wifi hotspot etc. etc.
  3. Attacker inserts false links to fake of sensitive site B
  4. User assumes links are correct because they are on site A and enters credentials
  5. Attacker steals stuff

And then there's the purely reassuring nature of the certificate (rightly or wrongly) which can help the user understand they are at the correct/respectable site.


Sites which are read only shouldn't need such measures to gain trust, but there are measures of trust outside of browser indicators.

For example, installing Avast anti-virus shows trust indicators as a tick mark on search results. How they decide who is trustworthy and who isn't is a wide ranging question and beyond the scope of this question.

If you are gathering user data, whether that's simply email addresses or full personal information for a dating website or e-commerce (especially card information) then an SSL certificate should be a top priority for you.

Does this provide a better user experience? I'd argue it does, knowing your information is going to be as secure as possible can help ensure people feel at ease in the, sometimes, unknown of the world wide web.


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