Building High-Trust Products: What is Neuroscience of Trust in User Experience?

Yusuf Hassan
Jan 24, 2018 · 6 min read
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What is happening in the brain of your customers, users and clients when they interact with your products?

One of the aspects of user experience that most product design team don’t take into account or don’t think is integral part of UX design is the element of trust. We leave that to the business development team or brand strategist.

We want to design virality into consumer products. We want our b2b products to be intuitive. While most of the time we forget that we can and we should design trust into the experience that users have when they interact with our products too.

How can you design trust into a product? What do you do or should not do to facilitate the release of that extended oxytocin, which produces happiness, in your customers’ brain when they interact with your products.

After reading the work of Paul J. Zak ( a renowned neuroeconomist) about organisational culture, I set out to test the theory that an employee-centric organisational structure, built upon a culture of trust can be good for business, and how or if this can be replicated in a product user experience scenario.

Some of the questions are:

  • Do trust have much to do with human-computer-interactions?
  • If yes, then how can you build High-Trust Products? What is neuroscience of trust in User experience?

Within the general accepted definition of “hey that thing or person looks good or beautiful”, most times , you just know in you that it is not going to work between you and the said thing or the person. Most times you won’t be able to wrap your head round the reasons for that feelings and conclusions. Why can’t you trust that person or that thing? It is not that you do not like it or like the person, its just that the element of trust is missing and the relationship and interaction will be broken no matter how beautiful and good looking the person or the product is to you .

So I postulate, if UI is beauty or love at first sight, designing trust into your product through user experience — UX, is the pathway to a long time relationship.

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These are some aspects of his findings in a recent article on Harvard Business Review that I brought down to design thinking and see how it is relevant to user experience crafting:

1- Reliability is the key to the trust doors:

2- Information Architecture:

Airbnb exemplifies this so well. When you are a go-between, or “mutual friends designer”, as they called it, for two total strangers that will live together under one roof, meeting each other for the first time, a lot of thought and research into designing for trust has to be done to determine the amount and the kind of information that you will need to share between the two of them , for both strangers to be able to enjoy the experience.

More on that from Joe Gebbia: Co-founder and Chief Product Officer of Airbnb, giving a talk on how they design for trust at Airbnb.

3- Can You Show vulnerability:

Another example from the employee-centric research is that: “Leaders in high-trust workplaces ask for help from colleagues instead of just telling them to do things…..research team has found that this stimulates oxytocin production in others, increasing their trust and cooperation.”

You can build your product credibility by being open and show to your customers that you are open to suggestion and that you are not a “know-it-all”.

4- Intentionally build relationship:

Are the experiences on your product consistent. This also has something to do with the reliability but differs in a way. In order to be reliable you must also show consistency through through.

5- Enable activity crafting:

Inline with that, try as much as possible not to force an activity or a feature on users. When customers are giving discretion on how they use your products, they trust the product better.

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In conclusion:

Once again, if UI is beauty or love at first sight, designing trust into your product through UX, is the pathway to a long time relationship.

I am neither a social scientist, a psychologist nor a neurologist and we are yet to get to that point of user experience research that requires us to monitor users brainwaves when we do A/B testing to monitor where and when a product unintentionally becomes unreliable.

However a simple conscious thoughts about trust elements during the design and testing exercises will go a long way to direct us on the right path.

For without trust there is no relationship; and without relationship all experiences become a fling. Do not let your users experiences with your product become a fling.

If you liked this post, please do hit the ❤️ button below. I really appreciate it!

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Yusuf Hassan

Written by

ex-Founder|Product Designer|Author. Currently: Lead User Experience @ Inatech- A Glencore Company

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +776K followers.

Yusuf Hassan

Written by

ex-Founder|Product Designer|Author. Currently: Lead User Experience @ Inatech- A Glencore Company

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +776K followers.

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