What do great UX and brand trust have in common?
No, this isn’t the opening line of a bad joke—and the answer is: plenty.
First of all, both have a huge impact on brand perception, and will make or break the user’s decision to invest their time, money and loyalty in a product or service.
Secondly, good UX and consumer trust are both invisible. When they’re present, the user doesn’t actively notice. As soon as they’re missing, however, the user becomes all too painfully aware.
Thirdly, both UX and brand trust mean big things for the bottom line. Over the last ten years, design-driven businesses have outperformed the stock market by an astounding 228%. Meanwhile, the top 15 most-trusted Fortune 100 brands outperformed the 15 least-trusted brands by 26%.
And now for the bad news: consumer trust is at an all-time low. Given how critical trust is to a brand’s success, this needs to be fixed— and fast. Let’s take a look at how UX design can aid data transparency and rebuild brand trust.
What is data transparency?
Nathan Kinch, co-founder of Greater Than X and author of Designing for Trust: The Data Transparency Playbook, believes that “data transparency has the single most significant impact on a brand’s ability to earn trust.”
As brands become more and more data-driven, one of the biggest challenges when it comes to building trust is getting the user to part with their data. Understandably, consumers are extremely protective of their personal data—and the only way for brands to overcome this is through transparency.
Data transparency is a simple yet powerful concept. It means being honest and upfront about what happens to the user’s data once they hand it over. Consumers want to know exactly how a brand intends to process their data, who else will have access to it and, ultimately, how this data exchange will improve their own experience.
This is all well and good, but what does it have to do with design?
Design’s role in data transparency
Data transparency is not just a theory—it’s a practice. To have any kind of meaning, it needs to be inherent in the brand. Not only do we need to design seamless user experiences; we need to design transparent ones.
In a world where consumer trust is severely lacking, the big question is this: how can we design in a way that helps customers understand how their data is used?
Data transparency needs to be user-friendly. Rather than making the customer scroll through ten pages of small print, the information they’re interested in needs to be presented clearly. Whenever you want to collect user data—be it a newsletter subscription or a comprehensive customer profile—the design should convey a clear, instantly recognizable value proposition.
This could be something as simple as a tick-list, stating what you plan to do with the information provided. A header, for example, saying “We’ll share your email address with the following 3rd party organizations…” followed by brief bullet points explaining how you and they will use the data and how this will impact the user.
Another crucial design move is to put the user in control at all times. Pre-checked boxes are an absolute no-go; any consent provided by the user should be active and conscious—not a matter of default. This includes presenting a clearly visible opt-out process, and using contrasting elements to highlight when a user has made a selection or agreed to something.
If you think about it, designing for data transparency is pretty straightforward. Designers are no strangers to presenting crucial information in a visually accessible, easily digestible manner—and exactly the same principles apply for data transparency.
Designing for trust beyond data
Designing for trust is not only important when it comes to collecting data.
There are many different ways that the overall design of a brand can help to create and reinforce consumer trust. Here are some basic design principles that are crucial to building trust:
Openness, honesty and clarity are absolutely key.
Be honest about your company values, and communicate in a way that your target audience can understand and relate to. This is where language plays a pivotal role: choose a tone and style that resonates with the reader.
When interacting with a brand, the last thing the user wants is counter-intuitive design—and inconsistency is a big trust-killer.
By establishing rhythms and patterns across your entire brand, the user soon starts to feel at ease finding their way around. Break these patterns or throw a curveball and you’ll catch the user off-guard, undoing all the good work you’ve done in making them feel at home.
Consistency breeds familiarity, which in turn breeds trust!
A human touch
Finally, giving your brand a human face will make it easier to establish a lasting connection.
Instead of using stock images, focus your design on real-life visuals that are unique to your brand. Make your brand human at every opportunity: if you incorporate a chatbot, give him or her a name and a personality; if you have an “About” page, use it to tell a human story.
Essentially, people relate to other people, not objects, so it’s essential that the consumer is able to see your brand in this way.
Designing for trust: An opportunity to stand out
With consumer trust in brands at rock bottom, those who design for trust will truly stand out. Consumers are more protective than ever when it comes to their data, and rightly so.
As one of CareerFoundry’s founders, Raffaela Rein puts it:
“Cultivating trust is the core responsibility for the next generation of designers. If you don’t have the user’s trust, you don’t have customers—and without customers, you don’t have a company. Developments in voice technology have raised concerns about privacy and are at the forefront of user’s minds.”
Want to learn more about how to improve brand trust? Here are some other helpful articles: