CX Insights

Cornerstones For Building Trust Into Your Website

5 min read

Trust and confidence are important factors that users will take into account when considering your product or service. A high level of trust is of particular importance if your site includes any commercial elements. Research has shown that distrust of the Internet undermines e-commerce (pdf). The study shows that over 50% of users believe that “going online puts privacy at risk”.

Jakob Nielsen also identified trust as an important element when users are considering using online services. He describes trust as hard to build and easy to lose.

William Albert (How Quick Are We to Judge? A Case Study of Trust and Website Design) talks about trust as “being the foundation of User Experience” and in particular he describes, how important quick judgement calls can be when it comes to trust. These judgements often happen without us being consciously aware that we are making them. In this article, we will discuss seven key elements that can help build trust in your web service.

1. Consistency

Consistency is a major factor to consider on your site when looking to gain the trust of your users. Some of the main areas, where consistency is important, include: interface, interaction, content and visuals.

User interface patterns can help with the consistency of your interface. The key is using the right pattern in the right context. Good use of UI patterns should help users orientate themselves within your site, giving them a good indication of what they need to do to completed the desired task. Be consistent with the functionality of the site particularly when considering the interactions, using pre existing standards that the user is already familiar with.

If introducing a new, or unfamiliar pattern make it intuitive. Use the content and visuals to enhance the users experience of your site. Using visual metaphors, such as buttons or tabs, can help familiarise the user with the interaction.

2. Aesthetics

Aesthetically pleasing websites are easier to use.

Make your site aesthetically pleasing. Research has shown that users judge sites that are aesthetically pleasing as more usable. Make the site aesthetically attractive by using consistent branding and an appropriate visual design style. This approach can be extended to the content. Whether written, audio, or visual, develop an attractive style for your product and communicate it in an effective way.

3. Usability

Lets go into a little more detail and look at some of the usability features that can be implemented to assist users in completing tasks and increasing the intuitiveness of the system. For the perceived trust level of a website it is of utmost importance that users can achieve their goals quickly and effectively.

There are many things you can do to assure good usability on your website. For example, offer reasonable default values. Don’t default to Afghanistan in country lists if your main user base is the UK. Provide “Just in Time” error checking when processing forms, it’s much easier for the user to make any changes as they are entering values than having to go back and review them. Provide useful error messages that keep the user informed.

4. Understanding the user

You can only design for your users if you know their expectations.

By understanding your users’ mental models and researching services similar to your own, you can get a good understanding of your users expectations and design your service to match.

This point cannot be stressed enough, make sure you understand your users! A good understanding of your users can be developed by performing user research, creating personas, developing mental models and Identifying key user flows. Your main goal should be to build an intuitive experience for the user. The fewer barriers there are the more likely the user will complete the process and the more likely they are to come back.

5. Personality

The personality and tone of voice a site uses can be very important. Convey what you want your brand to reflect and be consistent about it. Gone are the days when every one man band needs to make themselves sound like a big business, using the royal “we” etc. Often users now feel more comfortable using sites that provide more personality. Allow the users to understand your service and allow them to feed into it.

6. Customer Service

Provide good support for your service, allowing users to contact you in various ways. Embracing social media, such as twitter can be a great way to allow users to give feedback. Remember that you also need to respond to questions and engage with your users. This gives an opportunity not only to improve the users experience with your service, but also for you to learn from the experiences people actually have with your product or service.

7. Content presentation

Communicate clearly the service you are providing. Provide evidence of who you are, your successes, and any associations you may have. The kind of information you present on your site and also the way you present it, influences how easily people will trust you.

Remember that once you invest in a web presence you need to keep it up to date. Users will shy away from services that have minimal activity and outdated content. Another important point to consider is keeping you message simple. If your service doesn’t have a clear and concise message users might lose trust in your site.


Trust is an integral factor in providing a good service, users will be looking for elements of trust when considering whether to use your product or service. You can gain your users’ trust by designing a service that is both aesthetically pleasing and consistent in its content, interface design and interactions. Focus on making the experience consistent and intuitive, by understanding your users, their behaviours and expectations.

Trust builds up over time. So be patient and don’t forget that you can also use other avenues and interactions that users have with your product or service in order to build trust.

Further readings

Consistency: Key to a Better User Experience
Inconsistency killed the cat
Building Trust on Ecommerce Home Pages

David Barker
User Experience Designer, Inspired by psychology, Cyclist, Savateur. Author of, which is a blog on UX, Psychology and Web Development.