“Imagine your friend invites you to a party and you don’t know the host. […] As product designers, we play the role of the mutual friend who invites you to the party.”

Charlie Aufmann, Experience Design Lead at Airbnb

Establishing trust, whether it’s with a person or a web platform, is a gradual process, as is any friendship or other human relationship. It’s progressing from the first impression to an increasing level of commitment. With the increase of the sharing economy and marketplaces like ours, trust has become a defining force in today’s market. Let’s explore some principles that can help to avoid endangering our platform’s trustworthiness.

User trust: a progressive level of commitment
Working on marketplaces, one of the key problems we need to tackle is anxiety in user experiences: Every decision our users make on our platforms means for them to weigh risks and benefits. This is why we need to embed trust in the platforms. In the past, we have explored the topic of trust from different angles and connected with different stages of trust in our user experiences.
To explore the different stages of a progressive relationship between users and digital platforms, we use the “Pyramid of Trust” framework developed by NNGroup. It is helpful to create empathy with our users while designing to increase trust. Much like Maslow’s pyramid of needs, this shows 5 levels of commitment:

  1. Baseline relevance and trust that needs can be met: Could this site help me accomplish my goal? Is it credible and can I depend on this information? Does it seem to have my best interests at heart? Design, copy and visuals play a critical role in making the first impression. Homepages, landing pages, blog articles and onboarding are the key touchpoints to build trust and make a great first impression.
  2. Interest and preference over other options: Do I choose to use this site for this task? Is it better than other options? Making the value proposition and your unique selling points visible is key: Car For You spent almost an entire year on building trust on this level with the “verified” badge, the online purchase and most recently the buyer protection.
  3. Trust with personal information: Is this site’s offering valuable enough to justify the time and effort to register? Do I trust the site with my personal information? Login and user verification standards, as for example the phone or ID verification and user badges applied by Ricardo, are trusted and nowaday expected by the users.
  4. Trust with sensitive/financial information: Do I trust this site to securely use and store my sensitive data (e.g. credit card, street address)? Is it worth the risk? Guaranteeing a secure transaction like a payment is a must, this can be done through trust seals, users reviews, buyer protection programs.
  5. Willingness to commit to an ongoing relationship: Am I comfortable enough to establish a continuous connection with this site (e.g., recurring charge, linking with other accounts)? When trust is established and the relationship continue to generate value, user retention increases.
Source: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/commitment-levels/

How to use design to increase trust
It has been researched that it takes about 50 milliseconds for users to form an opinion about your website that determines whether they like a  site, and stay. Design can play a great role in increasing the credibility of a website and to establish trust. We have collected some principles to take in mind when designing for trust.

Design Principles for Trustworthiness

  • Comprehensive and current content.
  • Authenticity: Real images instead of stock pictures.
  • Up-front disclosure, honesty & transparency: For example using information tooltips to help explain why information is necessary or service conditions.
  • Avoiding dark patterns (Link): Such as trick questions, hidden costs and misdirections.
  • Design quality Appearance & Design consistency: With a visually appealing interface, users are more tolerable, studies show.
  • Connection to the rest of the web:
    • Trust seals and badges: With sites that are newer or less known, studies have shown that users look for visual security clues  (see research conducted by Baymard and Ricardo verified user as a reference).
    • Social proof: Recommendations, products and users reviews, testimonials.

Marta Andreoni, Design Chapter Lead at PUX.
More on “UX Processes & best practices”: HERE 

In the monthly Product and UX letter the PUX team shares insights about projects, interviews with product gurus and personal anecdotes inside and outside the TX group:

Subscribe to the Puxletter

* indicates required

What would you like to read about in our next "Project of the Month" coverage?