Trust in Experience Design

April 9, 2019 | by Horacio Acevedo

Every day we hear about new cases of websites getting hacked or personal information being leaked due to a security breach (and often the corporate negligence that led to it). But even with all of this, we still find ourselves voluntarily providing online services with our personal information and ongoing business. And doing it more and more often.

While a lot of this can be attributed to the convenience many of these services provided with a simple touch or click, many boundaries had to be broken early on to gain that trust from consumers.

Growing up, I remember being told not to jump in a stranger’s car or go into a stranger’s home. With companies like Uber and Airbnb, we have seen a near complete shift in trust. These companies fall under the category of the “Shared Economy”, meaning they provide a service without owning the property. They essentially become the middle man between the people in need of a service and those willing to provide it. In order for these services to excel, the key component is client TRUST. In the last decade, the “disruptors” in business have managed to gain a wide audience by creating trust in markets that we would have seen as daring and even taboo in the past.

So, how did we get here?



Great Branding

We are quick at making a judgement at a glance—that’s just part of our nature and part of human evolution. As technology and online services become a bigger part of our lives, we are becoming better at making judgement calls on services that we should trust. It takes us 1/10th of a second to make our judgement on a person, but it takes only 1/20th of a second to judge a website. Creating strong brands and clear messaging is a good start to getting a person to trust your service.



Providing Information in Return

Recently I took my parents on a trip and they stayed in their first Airbnb. It was interesting for me to see their hesitation at the idea of staying in someone else’s home, but to me this was a no-brainer in my attempt to be cost efficient in our trip. They had a lot of questions, but by being able to see other users’ reviews and the homeowner’s online bio/profile, they were put at ease. We are willing to put our trust in services that return information.



Aligning with Trusted Brands

As services become more data-driven, trust becomes a greater concern. Recently we have seen an increase in online services that provide easy registration or payment options by using services that we have come to know and trust over time. This is a great way for new businesses to get people to sign up and continue to participate in their website or browsing.




Have you ever noticed the abundance of blue social media logos? Social media is a service whose success is also driven by our trust. We create interaction and connections through shared interests and personal information. Unlike the color red, blue colors have shown to slow the pulse rate. It is considered a calming color that affects the way we relax and become comfortable with our interaction on these social media pages.



Relatable Photography

Stock photography is commonly used in websites and is even humorous in the way it is often overly staged. My favorite example is an image of 10 or more people circling around a computer. Since it’s very easy to spot a staged setup, these photos make it hard to feel a genuine connection to the business.

On the other hand, using imagery that relates more to your business makes it easier to create a connection with clients and consumers. A great example of this is images of happy customers or engaging staff that are actually taken by the business. The effect is a more realistic expectation of what you, the customer, can find when interacting with this business. It’s proof that the way you market your business really impacts how much trust consumers place and how they continue to interact.

As the convenience of online services becomes even harder to avoid, it’s easy to forget that there was ever a time when we hesitated at the thought of the Shared Economy or giving websites our personal information. While you should always be cautious about just how much you share, it’s safe to say that this convenience isn’t going anywhere soon. In order to earn consumers’ trust, more and more companies will rely on the tactics outlined above to keep their audience coming back.

What companies have gained your trust and why? Or better yet, which do you not trust and why not? Let us know in the comments!

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