Design for trust
Creating confident relationships with end users is key
Trust is a human emotion that can be designed for, and can make or break the user’s experience, but why is it so hard? Well, there’s a lot out there to put off even the most savvy digital user, with dark UX patterns, fake news and clickbait rife. Emerging technologies such as blockchain and self-driving vehicles will put the majority of UX designers’ skills to the test.
In recent years trust has shifted from being controlled from the top-down by the business or organisation, to being collectively controlled by users via social media about how trustworthy (or untrustworthy) their experiences with a brand have been. It’s fair to say that companies are not in control of this aspect of how they are viewed anymore, and so it’s imperative that a brand’s actions speak louder than its words. To gain the trust of the user, the experience must become as transparent as possible, with businesses being open about their motives, beliefs and activities. Designers can enable that relationship by not hiding away this information from the user, removing any anxieties they may have.
When a customer takes a leap of faith and invests their time, and possibly their money in your product or service, you suddenly have a social responsibility to make good on that relationship. So despite all that, how can trust be designed for? Thankfully there are a few techniques UX designers can use to instil confidence in the end user throughout their journey.
We all judge a book by its cover, and it’s also well known that a user is more likely to trust a site that is more aesthetically pleasing. This is called the aesthetic-usability effect, and is described as us perceiving beautiful things as easier to use over ugly ones (even if that is not the case). Included in the look and feel of the site aesthetic should be the tone of voice and type of imagery that are used to convey a professional, reliable impression of the business or organisation.
Of course, the ultimate indicator of trust should always be in the user testing results, along with observations of the user’s reactions to sites. Subjective measures like trust can also be captured at the end of tests. Moderated user testing will always provide much greater insights, but there are tools online to run unmoderated tests such as Usertesting.com.
“Trust and transparency is the most valuable, and strongest currency in the digital industry, and it is an essential key ingredient in building successful products and services that customers love” Mike Langton Digital Experience Manager, Mccarthy and Stone