Daily UX Crash Course — User Psychology: 17 of 31

In UX design it can be easy to slip into all the structures and techniques and forget about the fact that users are real people, and they can tell when you’re full of shit. Context matters. Honesty matters. So it’s important to learn a little about:

Creating Trust


(Just starting the User Psych Crash Course? Start here.)


Trust is a critical element in everything you do. There are lots of ways to create trust, but when users don’t trust your design, your perspective often prevents you from realizing it.


Below you will find 7 simple ideas that are always worth considering:

1) Professionalism: This may seem obvious, but you need to look like a real company. i.e. — not a scam. Part of that is visual design; part isn’t. Real companies will protect your data, survive until next year, and send you the stuff you just paid for. Companies often focus all their attention on the sales team and advertising, meanwhile their website is 5 years old and wasn’t very good in the first place. That hurts trust.

2) Nothing is 100% positive or negative: Top-rated product reviews are both positive and negative. It has also been shown that app ratings and book reviews are most-trusted when they do not have all 5-stars. A few 3’s or 4’s actually increase sales. Real people feel suspicious when something seems “too perfect”.

3) Democratize: As a group your users can be like a quality filter. Some companies use artificial intelligence to identify good content or prevent fraud, when they could be using actual intelligence. If you build voting and rating tools that are hard to abuse (limit the number of votes, require some experience to vote, etc.), what you have actually done is identify what your users trust most.

4) Accountability: Trust can be built by showing information AND by hiding it. Real names and contact information can reduce the amount of hateful, aggressive comments you get, and can make a company feel more personal. However, hiding someone’s identity will make them more comfortable with sharing private or embarrassing information. And doing the opposite will get the opposite result. Showing that you understand the consequences of information will create trust.

5) Handle negativity with grace: many people panic when they get negative feedback in public, but you shouldn’t. When a company receives negative feedback and then deals with it gracefully in public they actually build more trust than positive feedback does. So pause, be thoughtful, and focus on solving the user’s problem instead of protecting your ego.

6) Keep users informed: So simple, yet so neglected. Think about what users need to make a purchase or register. Will there be shipping costs? Will you share my email address? Will I get spam? Will you charge my credit card immediately? Just tell them up front! It is better to tell the truth than letting the user worry about it. Even when the truth isn’t the answer the users wants.

7) Use simple words: It is a myth that complicated language makes you more persuasive. Just speak like a normal person would speak. The more complicated you get, the fewer people will understand. Nobody trusts what they don’t understand.


Tomorrow we will switch gears and start looking at what the mind of a user can’t do, and how you can use it: What is Intuition?