However as soon as I started thinking about what trust 'looked like', I began to have a failure of imagination.
I had to break down the concept of trust into what it really meant in the context of an online experience.
Key drivers of trust online include:
- Privacy - my personal details and identity are secure and will not be misused
- Reliability - the product/service will work the way I intend it, without error (including my own)
- Honesty - what I see is what I'll get, no hidden fees or nasty surprises
Sure, there are all types of design devices to reassure customers of the above three attributes. For example:
- Privacy - include a privacy statement, include security payment gateway badges, credit card icons
- Reliability - ensure the site is usable, thoroughly tested (usability, ethical hacking, load & performance) and conforms to web standards and common browsers/platforms. More than this, provide good online customer support in case anything goes wrong or the customer has questions.
- Honesty - transparent product/service descriptions, good photography, customer reviews and ratings, delivery times and return policies.
After months of customer research, iterations of design and user testing, we finally had a new online brand and site design that audiences trusted slightly more than either the existing online brands that it was replacing or competing with or any of the alternative designs.
It wasn't my favourite design and it probably won't win any design awards, but audiences felt that it was an honest and accessible brand. From a design perspective, I guess you'd say it was predictable, but that's not such a bad thing when trust is the most important goal.