Building Trust with Your Users

If you want to build trust with you user, first, don’t call them users. We call them humans, which I know can sound a little stiff, but it is a general term that jolts you enough to think about the fact that real live people are going to use your product. Another more endearing way to name your target audience is to know them well enough to can give them a special name, maybe even a nickname. Here are some suggestions, depending upon your specific industry:

  • Partners
  • Moms
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Families
  • Fishermen
  • Golfers
  • Members

If you want to build trust with your humans, start by thinking about them as playing a specific role in the organization that you are building; remembering that your purpose is to serve them. Thinking about users in these two capacities will help you in more ways than just UX.

There is large cross-over between the information that is an input for user experience design and the information that is needed for marketing. The output of marketing and UX has large crossover, as well, such as what words we use and what style we use. Although marketing and UX are distinctly two different business activities, we can gain more ground by using inputs about our humans for both UX and marketing and aligning our outputs. We can both speed up our design-development process and simultaneously create a more cohesive solution for our humans.

I’ve recently discovered the podcast everyonehatesmarketers.com podcast. It is hosted by Louis Grenier and it is worth a listen if for no other reason than Louis’ fabulous french accent! Louis has a wonderfully humble curiosity, making the podcast highly valuable. In a recent episode, he interviewed Seth Godin. If you don’t know Seth, he is a self-proclaimed teacher. He has written nearly two dozen books, he does “projects” as he calls them including his latest one a podcast entitled akimbo and he is well-know as master of marketing. This is a particularly good episode because Louis asks Seth a thoughtful and interesting question that sets the stage for a wealth of great information. He asks Seth to start a company, with $1000, not use his (Seth’s name) and make it profitable in 90 days. How would he do it? Most of us would be flustered by a question like this, but Seth actually compliments Grenier on what a great question it is and answers detailed questions about what he would do. I learned so much about marketing in this episode and also saw lots of crossover into UX. One aspect that I can always seem to learn more about is target market.

Seth discusses how to explore a niche market that you know about and learn how to add significant value to others’ lives as the foundation for building trust, which in turn is how you build a company. This is a great take-away because Seth talks about how to identify a problem and build something quick but excellent to solve it. His next step is to immediately test it to see if it works. If humans in your niche start sharing it, you know you are on to something. It is great advice for marketing and it is also great advice to UX. If you want to know how your users will respond, give them something to respond to. You will come up with far greater information by talking to your humans than by sitting in a meeting discussing what you “think” they want. So the number one take-away of this podcast, is talk to the human who will use your product. Number two is that need to build something of value and over-deliver on what your humans expect. This true in UX as well. Your goal is think through each step in such detail, that you are literally guiding your humans through the experience. They will not even notice all of the nuances of what you have done, they will just feel the delight as they flow through your product.

Here are some great examples of over delivering in a way that thoughtfully enhances the user experience.

Spotify — Main call-to-action

This is a very fundamental part of UX and it can be a bit of a repeat at times, but the importance bears repeating. The main call-to-action on this Spotify play screen is clear. The “PLAY” button is it’s own color with all other colors paling in comparison. It is clear that on this screen you “PLAY” music. The next most important icon is the “save to your library” button. While a library book might be the most literal transitional, the heart symbol describes the emotion of the listener. How do I feel about this particular, artist in this case, but the same icon is used for individual songs, as well. It is right next to the main call-to-action so making it a similar shape or color would be distracting. Instead, it is subtle and obvious that if we like this artist, we would click this icon. The three dots are next to the heart and represent more info. The ellipse dots sequence are a great way to clean up a screen and not take focus away from the main call-to-action. Even though there are three actions at the top, it is clear which one is the main function the listener would want to use. This is simple and straightforward and yet there are countless examples of products missing the mark when it comes to highlighting the main call-to-action. If you are confused about what your users should be doing on a screen, they will be too.

Spotify — micro-interactions

I love the subtle way Spotify indicates which menu option you are on. The word is bolded and then there is this ever-so-slight left, vertical, green indicator bar that shows you where are you in the menu. Slack has done a good job with micro-interaction indicators as well and now has become the industry standard for left-nav indicators (see below), but I like the Spotify way. It’s just a little different and subtle, but still clear communicates the idea.

In an effort to over-deliver, another important part of UX design are animations. While animations can be distracting and annoying when done incorrectly; thoughtful integration of animations can take your users’ delight to a whole new level. When considering mobile design, it is almost impossible to have excellent design without thoughtful integration of animations.

Asana — animation

Asana does a great job of using animations wisely. The micro-interactions that occur as the project manager moves a task around the board from in progress to completed show a smooth, satisfying animation. Other tasks gently slide up or down to allow proper spacing for the key task that is being adjusted. It feels smooth and yet the gentle movements show clear indication that the key task is settling down in it’s new spot. Similar movements are found in the timeline. In another example of well-done animation, the list function uses a different more visually noticeable flipping movement when the date, priority or person ordering is selected.

These are just a few examples of how UX can help build trust with your audience and also help you serve those humans just a little better. Happy trust building!