What is the main component that determines a business's success or failure?

If you answered trust, you are correct. The relationship between you and your customers is the same as any other relationship. Without trust, the relationship ultimately fails. In a business, that means you lose customers. In the days when most business relationships took place in person, building trust was a lot easier. Today, you may never come face-to-face with the majority of those you do business with, but that means trust is even more important. You need to look to the one place customers are most likely to get an impression of you and your business-- your website. This is the place where User Experience (UX) design must be your top priority.

What Is Trust?

The dictionary defines trust as "a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something." This belief is a combination of both subconscious and conscious appearance. You can't see trust in itself, but you can feel it, and you can feel the lack of it. Your website represents you to visitors and if the UX design doesn't foster trust from the start, you are likely to lose their business before you even had a chance. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help build and keep that trust. Let's take a look at some of them.

1. Easy Navigation - People come to your website looking for something. Whether they found you through a search engine or a link you shared somewhere, they have a preconceived expectation that they will find what has been promised. By making your site easy to navigate, you allow them to find that promised information.

2. Choices - Have you ever felt that twinge of annoyance when you find optional boxes already pre-checked on a site? Often you find you have signed up for a newsletter or agreed to something that you didn't mean to, simply because you were in a hurry and forgot to uncheck a box. Give your visitors an option to choose. Leave optional boxes unchecked and allow them to mark them only if they want to. This shows them you value their opinion and aren't trying to trick them into anything.

3. Attention to Details - Think about how you feel when you come across grammatical or spelling errors or a link that doesn't work. It makes you wonder if the website owner actually cares about appearances. When you can't give attention to these things, visitors wonder if you truly care about your business and your customers.

4. Security - Not only should your website have an SSL certificate (https rather than http) and regular security updates should be done, you should also make it clear to everyone exactly what you plan on doing with any information they share with you. Don't hide this in small print but actually make a point of listing all the ways this information will be used, what you will do to keep it safe, and how having this information will help you provide better service to the customer. This type of info is normally included in a Privacy Policy, that is required under California state law.

5. Humanize - People still prefer to do business with other humans. You can humanize your UX design by having pictures that show your company offices or show actual product users using your product. Make your About Us page tell a story that is willing to show a bit of vulnerability. Make sure chat functions come with a human name and whenever possible, allow a human to answer any phone calls.

6. Be Available - If you can provide a physical address and phone number to site visitors, this allows them to not only feel more secure but also shows them you have nothing to hide. This goes a long way toward building trust. Including a picture of your brick and mortar building also helps. Give visitors as many ways to contact you as possible.

Final Thoughts

Without trust, you are setting yourself up for failure in business. By adding the above elements to your UX design, you give your website visitors the chance to know you care about them. Give them what you promise, maintain as much openness as possible, and stay consistent. You’ll give both conscious and subconscious indicators that you can be trusted. Building a solid foundation of trust gives your business a fighting chance in a world where trust is hard to come by.