Psychology and UX: Building a Brand Consumers Can Trust

As you continue to emphasize your brand’s online presence, don’t forget to capture the characteristics that have been fundamental to building your offline organization.

One such vital component of any sustainable business is consumer trust.

Case in point, the majority of consumers require assurance of an organization’s credibility before engaging with them. In fact, a 2014 Search Engine Land survey revealed that 88 percent of consumers read online reviews to determine the quality of local businesses.

But how can trust be developed online, where there is a lack of personal interaction between organizations and their prospective customers? The answer lies in leveraging the user experience. From landing page to checkout, there are a number of key design elements that can be employed to help foster trust in your brand.

Load Time

Consider your landing page (e.g., most often your home page) as your organization’s first impression with prospective clients and customers. There are several psychological elements at work here that can make or break a user’s trust in your brand.

For example, according to Kissmetrics, 47 percent of users expect a landing page to load in two seconds or less. If a page takes longer, users may begin to feel a sense of anxiety that can lead them to question the website’s viability. It is clear from this statistic that users develop an initial sense of trust (or distrust) in a brand very quickly.

Visual Cues

Visual cues are also important elements to consider when looking to develop consumer trust.

Research shows that it takes only 1/10 of a second to form a first impression about a person, and websites are no different. This ‘snap judgment’ indicates that the pre-conscious mind plays a role in what and how we trust.

In relation, the “picture superiority effect” refers to the notion that visuals can convey up to six times more information than words alone and are more easily and frequently recalled than the written word.

Because of our human propensity for unconscious decision-making, the picture superiority effect is important to keep in mind when designing a visual UX. According to a study by the Nielson Norman Group, a visitor to a website with just text or audio content, is only likely to remember about ten percent of the information consumed.

In other words, images are important if you want your visitors to like and remember you.

This article from Kissmetrics outlines four principles that advertising legend, David Ogilvey, found in his research when comparing image usage and placement with reader response rates.

To sum it up, don’t cut corners when it comes to visual design, it’s what matters most when pulling in – and keeping – your users.

Online Reviews

As users begin to navigate a website, they will encounter several more elements that can make or break trust.

As mentioned above, online reviews are a vital factor in determining whether or not users will trust your brand.

For instance, resist the urge to “manage” reviews on your site; instead, for better or worse, let your reviews stand as written—as a testimony to your transparency and integrity. A few negative comments in the scheme of things won’t hurt your business and will build trust in your brand.

Undesirable reviews present an opportunity for your organization to address legitimate concerns publicly, reinforcing trust in your brand while simultaneously giving your organization the chance to review internal processes.

One hundred percent perfect reviews, as well, may do just the opposite of building trust. Consumers can potentially see this sentiment as fake and/or untrustworthy. Having a few less than stellar reviews, gives readers a chance to decide for themselves whether that reviewer’s opinion holds enough weight or not.

Social Media

Just like with reviews, employing social media on your website can instill trust in your brand. This is a way for your organization to incorporate a human element without the negatives associated with self-referential content.

One great way to utilize social media is to embed a Twitter feed on your page. This will not only generate timely content, but will substantiate your brand’s up-to-the-minute relevancy.

Additionally, brand confidence tends to come via word of mouth or recommendations from friends and family. As social media is a significant method for individual communication these days, your organization’s participation in the conversation will only further consumer confidence in your brand.

However, not all brands and clients/audiences are suited for social media in the sense mentioned above. B2B or technology focused companies may find that email, newsletters, blog comment sections and personal LinkedIn networking work best for their core group of clients. On the other side, B2C companies may find more success in the popular social networks, forums or even through video. The point here is this: go where your customers are. Don’t put yourself in a box, but don’t waste time on activity that is getting you nowhere either.

Shopping Cart Experience

When a potential customer finally puts an item into your website’s shopping cart, don’t think you’ve won them just yet as this point is one of the largest consumer dropoffs that websites experience.

In fact, 68 percent of all shopping cart purchases were abandoned this year, accounting for an estimated $4.98 trillion in lost revenue, according to data aggregated by Forisimo.

Several of the key factors for this dropoff speak to the issue of trust, such as concerns over card security (13 percent), unexpected shipping costs (28 percent) and being required to create an account before checking out (23 percent).

However, there are simple ways an organization can work to counteract these trust issues.

Employing patches—emblems that represent legitimacy and are granted by security or business standards organizations—can demonstrate to users that sharing their private information is risk-free. Some important patches may include accreditations from the Better Business Bureau or a security group that maintains data privacy.

With regards to shipping costs, simply stating the shipping policy prior to checkout can help to avoid having users feel like they’ve been tricked. As far as mitigating concerns over being required to create an account, give users the option to check out via a guest login feature to avoid them having to share more information than they want and to speed up the purchase process.

Considering the nearly $5 trillion worth of purchases that were abandoned in shopping carts online in 2015, creating consumer trust is still a challenge for organizations working to develop their businesses online.

Be sure as you continue to structure your website that you do so with the intention of building trust into each step of the purchase process. This will help ensure that potential customers make it to your checkout page and follow through.