Design & Development
Published July 24th, 2017 by

User Experience to Build Trust: Tips and Tricks

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, but in the case of websites and apps, if your user doesn’t get a great vibe in the first fractions of a second, consider them lost. But what makes a website attractive? What gives a web surfer the feeling that their visit is worth their time and the brand is genuine? Such decisions are made by gut feeling, if something doesn’t feel right, the page is abandoned with no second thought about it, and a competitor’s site gets the traffic.

Even as early as 1999, four elements were identified that made people stay, learn more and even buy. These are: the quality of design, openness towards the site’s goals together with comprehensive and current content. These factors are still relevant today, and they contribute to trust in a brand given by user experience.


The idea of design is broad, it includes the visual presentation, color schemes and fonts, but also the logical organization of the website. Users feel at ease and place their trust in a brand when the principle of least astonishment (POLA) is satisfied. Pleasant surprises are welcomed, but generally, you should put things exactly where the user expects to find them, name pages in the most helpful way and use images that convey a message, not just stock photos.

The first elements on a website that catch a user’s attention are the name (logo), menu, search box, content and footer area. Organization and visual impact are paramount. The UX designer and web developer should never underestimate the impact of blank space surrounding the main items. The general tendency in websites is towards minimalism.

The color scheme influences brand perception and can position the company as budget or upscale, while fonts should resonate with the tone of the website, further enhancing the ideas as bold, reserved or fun. If there is a misalignment between the message and the graphical presentation the user will feel an internal tension that could translate into distrusting the brand.

User-friendliness is not one feature, but the way all items interact with each other to create a unitary response to the questions of the visitor. Little things like cues about what is clickable, timing of actions related to the moment in the user journey and step by step engagement are the definitive traits of a good site. All developers should put function before form and make sure all items on a page serve a purpose, as advised by the specialists in web app testing by A1QA. Simplicity is sometimes the best choice and the ultimate sophistication. Just think about Google’s home page.

Authentication and Disclosure

First impressions matter and in an online environment asking for too much too soon or being unnecessarily mysterious is the fastest road to the X in the corner of the window. Online trust is built like in real life, by including all necessary information, being honest even with the more unpleasant aspects, like price or delivery time.

State your rates in a visible place, make the client aware of any additional costs or discounts. Saving that for last or hiding them doesn’t protect the customer from pain, and could result in distrust and even negative talk about the brand.

Requiring personal details just to see information is another bad move. The rule of thumb is first to provide value, then to ask for something. In the digital world, all data is currency, and personal data is the most valuable. Measure the effort of the user in the number of words to write or clicks to make.


Content includes the information of the website but also the fine print and the additional meta text like links. Quality content is optimized both for humans and search engines, including headers, related images, hyperlinks, and descriptions.

Currently, search engines appreciate websites that have rich content, usually over 1000 words, while 500 is considered a minimally acceptable count. Those numbers were found to be best for users. The more they learn about the brand, the more the relationship grows.

Trustworthy websites are useful for the visitor, they are bursting with free information, great tips, and tricks that bring value without asking for compensation, usually as a blog. The explanation resides in the fact that if a company voluntarily offers so much for free, their paid services are truly world class.

Try to present the full range of services to a comprehensive typology of potential clients. If your site is too general or seems to cater only to a particular niche, you could lose valuable business, since some leads will feel alienated. Of course, if you are targeting only one type of client, be specific about this from the start (above the fold).

Be sure to use a step by step introduction and offer options for those who want more knowledge, as opposed to those who are trying to get their problems solved as fast as possible.

Don’t forget to check your content for consistency and usability, including no broken links, no blank target buttons. Proper grammar and proofreading help create and maintain a professional image that inspires trust.

Social Validation

Humans are social animals and requiring validation before taking risky actions is in our genes. This instinct is still present and even accentuated on the Internet, which is perceived as a dangerous environment. Associations with other trusted brands or positive appraisal by large numbers of users are the best ways of building confidence in an online environment.

Reviews, testimonials or press appearances are all great tools for turning new-comers into loyal clients. These are completed by industry-recognized certifications such as ISO or payment options with leading companies.

Human Nature

Although technology evolves, design preferences change, and even communication patterns are different between generations, when designing the user experience, the guiding compass should be authenticity. Since the world is moving at an ever-increasing pace and people have less time, you should also aim for conciseness, clarity and offering a positive feedback at each step. Even small wins make people feel better. Gamifying the experience can provide gratification and make people return or spread the word.

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