Designing Trust for Conversion

Guillermo Torres
4 min readJul 24, 2014

Last month, we publicly launched and were featured in Fast Company. We got a traffic spike, but we also noticed a spike in conversion rate. That surprised us, so we thought we’d dig into why. Small changes can make a big impact at early stage startups. It’s easy to notice what caused a positive change, but the reason why often takes a bit of thinking.

Before the public launch, we had a bit of blogging and social media to generate traffic. With those channels, people will be curious enough to check you out, but in order to sign in and invest additional time, trust will give you greater results.

Based on this understanding, I started looking for other ways to create trust with our users. Not just because it helps our conversion rate, but because we need to be looking at the time users spend with us as an opportunity to build a relationship with them. Here are a few tactics I found effective:

Showcase your craft

Stories of Facebook scams and internet identity theft make us skeptical about anything that we see on the internet. Would I give this site my information? Fortunately the people that work on these scams don’t spend that much time designing fake sites, a generic site will trigger some flags. A well-crafted product will communicate the team behind it knows what they’re doing. Bad design communicates a disregard for the users needs. A Stanford study found nearly half of all users assessed the credibility of sites based in part on the appeal of the overall visual design, including layout, typography, font size and color schemes.

Showcase the wisdom of others

To create trust for your product, let others do the talking. These people should have reliable knowledge, an admired reputation or an intimate relationship with users.

Reliable. The reason why press is so important is because people assume that it is their job to do the research and shine a light on what they deem is worthy.

Admired. You can also ride on the reputation of others by shining a light on well-regarded companies or respected users that are using your product. If your market is the startup community, showing your investors would also help, these are usually important industry players that have evaluated your product and decided to back your product with money. Use that information to your advantage.

Intimate. Word of mouth has always been a great way to gain trust. It’s important to enable your users to be advocates of your product. Making sure that your product gets a warm introduction from a trusted friend is key. “Invite a friend” programs work great, but if you can bake it into the product, it feels more natural.

Never forget who you are addressing.

Every touchpoint with a user is a conversation. Take it as an opportunity to generate trust. You could even take old lessons learned from Dale Carnegie and apply them to technology.

Mimic their language. If you are designing a product for professionals it is important to speak like one. You can do this with a contextual inquiry or other research methods, you can also mine for what language they respond to better by simply running some google adword tests.

Never forget a name. In terms of technology, a name is the first way to humanize a product. Most product experiences should have a service perspective in mind, and knowing that there is a human being behind the scenes is important. One of the reasons why people love startups is that in the early stages they have the luxury of running like a concierge service. It is reassuring when you receive a greeting from the CEO himself.

Always Be helpful. Even when you screw up! Technology breaks, everyone knows that. When users run into a problem we can detect, we proactively contact them.

These are just a few recommendations that have made an impact on our product. Let me know if there are other ideas that have worked for you.

Guillermo Torres

I’m a designer. I create engaging interactions between people, products, and technology.