The one thing that can always make or break your product is trust. And, to be exact, what’s going to break it is a lack of trust. Just as you wouldn’t give your phone number to a total stranger on the street or your card details to the person sitting next to you on a plane, your visitors will not convert to customers if they don’t trust you.
And, since you can’t meet all your visitors personally and show them how nice and trustworthy you are (we’re assuming you are nice and trustworthy :)), the user interface will have to build that trust instead.
Unfortunately, it’s much easier to break down trust than to build it. Therefore, this is not a single task, but rather an issue that you constantly have to keep in mind whenever you work on any kind of touch point with your audience.
Admittedly, building trust carries many tasks, from big to small, and requires paying particular attention to the small details, but, trust me, you and your business goals will benefit from it in the long run.
So, here is Part One of our list of do’s to consider when looking to build trust with parts Two and Three to follow in the coming weeks.
Even though most people can’t point out the specific details that helped them form their opinion about a product, the effect of these small details add up to an overall whole. If you ask your users how they feel about the product, you can’t expect them to say “Yeah, this company doesn’t seem particularly reliable because they don’t care that the text touches its frames.” Instead you can expect to just hear the first part, this company doesn’t seem particularly reliable. While the second part is just replaced with something more vague.
It is therefore both your’s and your designer’s job to make sure that all the details are well attended to. I’d especially suggest watching out for mispositioned elements such as a title that is way too close or too far from the text it belongs to, missing margins like the one mentioned above or misaligned objects, for example, a button that is trying to be aligned to the beginning of the text above it, but fails to do so.
Using low resolution assets is another great way to say “I don’t care”. Many online retailers are unwittingly good examples for this. When a retailer is not the product owner, but rather a reseller, it’s expected that the 3rd party will provide the photos of the products. Unfortunately, often in these situations the outcome is low resolution, low quality images of the products.
You can’t expect people to be confident in buying something based on a bad or shoddy image. So make sure that all your visual assets, photos, icons, illustrations, etc. are sharp both on normal and high resolution screens.
In order to save time and money in the future, always save the highest resolution version of all images. While vector based illustrations, icons or logos should be kept in a vector format.
Additionally, if you work on high resolution displays make sure that the small elements and thin lines are properly visible on normal resolution displays. For example, a beautiful light typeface on a high res. display can completely break down on other displays.
Your design doesn’t have to be inline with the latest trends - there is more freedom in design than that - however I would suggest being careful not to use old design trends which are recognisable as something from the past. Doing this clearly sends an outdated, and possibly an untrustworthy, message. As an example: do you remember those big texts that were Photoshopped to have a kind of texture?
Yep, those ones, I’d say best to avoid that.
It is a trust breaking experience to browse a website and then suddenly arrive at a page that looks completely different from the rest of the site. It feels you’ve clicked on a link to another website by accident, or even that perhaps hackers have taken over and added a fake page to steal your personal data.
Each design decision you make should carry through to all the other pages. For example, if you chose a color palette for titles, paragraphs, backgrounds, buttons, etc. be sure to use the same palette everywhere. There are exceptions of course, but these exceptions have to make sense.
Design consistency is an important thing to notice when hiring designers. This is covered in our article: “Hiring a UI Designer? This is what you need to know”.
We’re sure this goes without saying but your website needs to be either responsive or have a mobile version. It’s not just making sure that the site loads, but also that it looks and works as well as it does on a desktop.
Most template based responsive websites load “correctly” on a mobile browser. However, due to their general nature their elements are not designed to better suit the small screen, but are rather scaled and broken down to fit. Some elements, for example comparison tables, need to have a different design for mobile devices. At the end of the article “Comparison Tables for Products, Services and Features” by Kate Meyer you can see a great example of how Shopify displays a different version of their pricing page designed especially for mobile browsing.
Admittedly it takes quite a lot of extra effort to design and develop a solution for every UI and UX issue for mobile phones, but it’s worth considering due to the overwhelming amount of visitors using mobile devices. If at this point you think “Yes, but I’m designing mobile first” you should remember that the problems still exist, they’ve just been moved to desktops.
Arriving visitors scan the screen and try to get a feeling of what is the right course of action for them. It could be finding a specific product, an answer to a question or just to find out more about you. Whatever it is, they are looking for signs that will lead them to the right place. Texts on buttons, links, menu items and so on, are part of those signs. By providing clearer labels you also help the user build confidence in their choice and of course speed up the process.
Unclear labels might send users to the wrong page, from which of course they can go back, but will likely be a bit more frustrated, less confident and less trusting. The worst case is that bad copy completely prevents users from finding what they are looking for and therefore they leave the site, never to come back.
In short, write clear text, that the majority of your audience will understand.
Typos and spelling mistakes
These are the worst. They make your product look like it was built by either unprofessional people who just don’t care or people who are trying to rip you off. I wouldn’t provide my credit card details to people like that, would you?
Most of us make spelling mistakes, especially if we write in another language other than our own native language. That’s no big deal. The problem is that when you read your own writing most of your mistakes are invisible to you, simply because they are your mistakes. For others however, they will look like ketchup stains on a white shirt. So make sure that other people review your writing before you publish it.
It’s not just what you say, but how you say it. Many years ago, as a means to save for a backpacking trip I worked as a sales rep at the electronics department of an office supplies store. One of the most interesting skills I picked up while working there was the ability to align the way I express myself to the person standing in front of me. What I realized is that customers need to develop some kind of trust in the salesperson in order to take their advice.
Speaking and expressing myself similarly to the customer didn’t just help with explaining the technology I was selling, but also with developing their trust in me. Robert B. Cialdini PhD talks about the subject of similarity in his book, “Influence”.
As an extreme comparison, try to imagine how it would sound if your dentist explained to you a complex procedure he is suggesting, but he speaks down to you like a kindergarten teacher does to children. Would you go for the procedure? Probably not.
Make sure your copy is written in a language and your message is expressed in a way that is relevant to your target audience.
This is becoming a trend and I think that we should stop it now. For example, a makeup brand’s website shows a popup inviting users to sign up for their newsletter and the usual “skip” or “not now” button is replaced with something like “No, I don’t want to look good”.
If you are still thinking about using this method, then checkout the research. It’s not worth it.
This was part 1 of our short list of do’s to consider when looking to build trust.
Part 2 is coming soon. In the meantime you can read about ways to increase signups with better ux in our article on the subject.