4 Parts of UX That Earn Customer Trust

Earning the trust of website visitors is a difficult task. Many people who buy online — perhaps even most — have been burned before: they’ve placed orders from new sites only to see those sites disappear and their orders go unfulfilled, or attempted to return bought products only to be forced to jump through numerous frustrating hoops in the process. Some have even seen their personal details (even their financial details) leaked through ineptitude or outright fraud.

When you buy from a brick-and-mortar store, you can at least be somewhat confident that it’ll be there in the event that you have an issue with your purchase. Buying online might have once seemed like a magical event, but we know better now. It’s a risky proposition — and if you’re not sure that you can trust a given business, there are plenty of alternatives out there.

Key to earning customer trust is UX design, obviously, but which elements are most influential? In this post, we’re going to run through four parts of UX that can sway the extent to which the visitors to a brand’s site trust that brand. Here they are:

Solid site performance

Think about when you’re using a streaming service like Netflix to watch a new show or movie (a lot of people are leaning heavily on such services during COVID-19 lockdown). That show or movie could be fantastic, terrible, mediocre, or infuriatingly inconsistent — but if the service keeps stopping and buffering, you’ll stop watching regardless of the quality.

Few things in business are more wasteful than designing a spectacular site that offers a lot of value to the intended visitors and coupling it with mediocre hosting (and weak optimization) so the pages load inconsistently (or consistently slowly). Solid performance optimization keeps people around to experience everything your site has to offer, and shows general commitment.

Site speed is such a fundamental concern that it’s difficult to trust a company that doesn’t invest in it. Imagine a Netflix-like service launching with exclusive original content that simply fails to load most of the time. Knowing about those service performance issues, would you really expect that original content to be worthwhile? I can’t see how.

High-quality product images

Ecommerce brands can find it particularly hard to earn trust because of the inherent deficiency of presenting products online. When you visit a brick-and-mortar store, you can pick up a product, look at it closely, and gauge the quality to some extent. At a minimum, you can confirm that the packaging is authentic. You don’t have that option when buying online. 

That’s where product images become essential. Offering photos from several angles with native zoom can help enormously with convincing a customer that a particular product listing can be completely trusted. There’s an art to product photography (encompassing elements including shutter speed and light positioning), and so either learn it yourself and take the photos in-house or bring in a professional photographer to run a session.

Prominent support options

Again using the brick-and-mortar comparison, customer support has always been vital for niche stores with limited customer bases: when relatively few people walk in, a strong effort must be made to win over each one, ideally turning them into a loyal customer. What keeps someone coming back to a niche store? An unrivaled product range, perhaps, or exceptional pricing — but customer service can be even more potent than those things.

In a physical store, it comes down to having well-trained customer advisors and instructing them to help out however they can. In an online store, it’s more complicated: providing online support is a trickier matter, and you should offer various options to cater to as many visitors as possible. Different people will want different forms of assistance, after all, and at different times.

Having a live chat function is certainly advisable so that someone looking for some immediate reassurance can get it. Live chat support shows that a website is actively being maintained, and that isn’t always clear. Couple that with clear contact options so someone can get help via email or even phone (not everyone likes live chat), and throw in an FAQ section if you have the time. Remember to keep running A/B tests to confirm things like the best placement. 

Clear and succinct copy

Online copywriting is severely underrated in the business world, often viewed as simply ticking boxes by filling spaces. An introduction here, a brand statement there, covering the right keywords: more of an SEO exercise than anything else. But the quality of a website’s copy can make a big difference in how the user perceives it, and a single typo can be very damaging.

I noted that website performance demonstrates a company’s commitment to UX, and the same can be said of website copy. If someone arrives at a product page and immediately notices several typos or outright inaccuracies in the product description, it’ll give them good reason to doubt the professionalism and competence of the company.

Strong copy needs to be clear, succinct, and polished very thoroughly to eliminate all typos and grammatical imperfections. Even if people don’t consciously notice a difference, it will change how they perceive the website — and it will certainly make it easier for them to find the information and advice they’re looking for.

This list of UX elements that earn customer trust is far from comprehensive, obviously, encompassing just four. There are so many things in the UX world that affect customer trust, and if you want to drive customer loyalty (as you should, because it’s immensely valuable) then you need to think carefully about your UX work. 

Rodney Laws is an ecommerce expert with over a decade of experience in building online businesses. He’s worked with the biggest platforms in the world, making him the perfect person to offer advice on which platforms to build your website with. Check out his reviews on EcommercePlatforms.io and you’ll find practical tips that you can use to build the best online store for your business. Connect with him on Twitter @EcomPlatformsio.

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