Trust as part of a positive User Experience

Trust and technology

Trust is important in any relationship and not least in building a relationship with your online customers.   Research tells us that when a customer trusts a company, they anticipate that company will fulfil their needs and expectations (Bauer, 2002; Bhattacherjee, 2002).    And that a consumer’s purchase decision to buy online is complex and sophisticated, but trust is a relevant factor (McKnight, Choudhury & Kacmar, 2002), citied in Zhang et al. 2009.


I became interested in this area when I started usability testing.  We would see two similar applications which performed very much the same in terms of efficiency and ease of use etc. but for some reason, users would much prefer one application over the other.  I believe trust was one of the elements that made the difference.

Good level of trust  =   more positive user experience.

Trust online

While talking to users about online payments, we hear that more and more customers are looking for the lock icon and/or https in the address bar before they commit their credit card details to a site but what about other aspects of trust in an online experience?

According to Nielson Norman GroupTrust is the user’s willingness to risk time, money, and personal data on a website. And they produce a report with design guidelines for increasing trust which is available to download for a fee.

Some advice for free comes from a very interesting article from UX matters which gives us some tips on building trust in e-commerce sites for first time visitors.

Trust Tips (1)

  • Use Trust Elements in Homepage: Professional looking logo , an ‘About us’ link, trusted words such as certified
  • Good Design and Content: User testimonials, the perception of easy search, easily defined categories, clear content etc.
  • Good Design: reduce the information complexity and lower the perceived risk of a transaction

Some other excellent advice for building trust comes from BJ Fogg from Stanford University and his book of Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do.

He tells us that perceived trustworthy and perceived expertise  =  perceived credibility and that a website is more credible if:

Trust Tips (2)

  • It highlights the people or organisation behind content and gives details on service it provides (Give address, phone number, contact and email
  • Links to outside materials. Links to site you believe trustworthy
  • Displays an award
  • If meets your positive expectations – expertise – quick response, email confirmation, easy to find stuff, gives authors, is searchable.
  • If recommended by friend
  • Does not have Pop ups and ads, Out of date info or Domain name and company name not the same.

Conclusion – Building Trust online

Computer technology that is viewed as trustworthy (truthful, unbiased)    = increased power of persuasion and users more likely to perform desired task

And an increased number of trust elements (professional logo etc) combined with clear design, content and ease of navigation    =      increased perception of trustworthiness.

Zhang, X., Prybutock, V.R., Ryan.S., Pavur. R., 2009, ‘A model of relationship among consumer trust, web desing and user attributes’, Journal of Organizational End User Computing, Apr-Jun, pp. 44-66.


The Psychology of User Experience (part 2 of 3)

In the second part of my research on Positive User Experiences I am looking a little closer at what psychology /cognitive science have to do with User Experience.    What concepts are important? My first task in understanding this was to look at what was out there describing User Experience and extract any components of UX which might be considered psychological in nature.   This is what that picture looks like:


Some initial observations:

  • UX is about Humans and technology and involves processes that are both cognitive and affective
  • Emotions and feelings are a core part of user experience and the aim is to provide positive, fun and joyful experiences that connect and are meaningful to users.
  • User experience involves choices and decision-making processes which impacts user behaviour
  • Users’ have their own needs, goals, values which motivate actions
  • Users’ attitudes are important indicators of user behaviour and they come to the experience with prior experiences and expectations.
  • Perceptions, sensory, aesthetics are important concepts; especially in relation to design; elicit subconscious reactions?
  • Digital agencies talk of Experience in terms of brands, designs, and making engagement s more user friendly, meaningful and positive
  • Academics focus on the experience in terms of phenomena that is constructed in the exchange between people and technology.  It is personal, subjective, internal but also very social.

The question is how/can you deconstruct that experience ?

**Got any comments or know of any great resources related to what UX is?   Please leave me a comment!

Up next – part 3 of 3 – How to measure User Experiences..