Build trust by putting yourself in your user’s shoes

We closed our first post about building trust through web design with a question: What is it about your favourite websites that keep you coming back?

We can think of many answers to this question, but here’s one really important one: The websites we love most make it easy for us to get the information we need.

Where content meets user experience

The first post focused on how good content establishes trust with users and keeps them coming back. Content is a major part of the user experience, but it’s not the whole package. User experience is about how well a page flows, how easy it is to interact with, how logically its information is displayed, and whether it acts more like your best friend or your dad.

You may have seen a customer feedback form floating in the corner of a site, like on Campaign Monitor’s support portal. It’s not beautiful, but it’s discreet and effective, and it’s definitely not a popup.

An unobtrusive feedback form UI

Unfortunately, many websites use louder and more intentionally disruptive ways of getting users’ attention. When we’re reading great articles about email subscription pop-ups, we don’t want to be interrupted by a popup that—while relevant—distracts us from the subject matter. Especially to the point where we can’t continue reading what we were reading at all.

A disruptive call to action in a popup modal

Always put your user first

We’re not saying, “Never, ever use a disruptive popup.” We’re saying it’s easy to lose readers, and you need to build an experience that keeps them engaged. Katie Sherwin’s article Low-Contrast Text Is Not the Answer points out another way that many sites don’t properly serve their user. According to Sherwin, the more difficult a site is to read, the more difficult it is to use. Users might not perceive that the text is hard to read—but they could misread something, miss a button, or struggle to find information if it’s in a weird place.

There are all kinds of ways of unknowingly putting your user second, and you probably won’t catch all of them. Fortunately, there are also plenty of ways to test design and test for usability. If you don’t have the time or resources for intensive testing, you’ll need to get creative.

Watch how users use your site

Testing isn’t foolproof, but it should give you an idea of what does and doesn’t work on your website. Even getting one friend to use your site while you watch over his or her shoulder can reveal problems you didn’t know existed. If you can get more than one friend to do this, that’s even better.

It’s all data, and it’s all important. Don’t forget to take notes!

PSA: As of Sept. 29, 2017, you can no longer purchase themes from this website. We will continue to provide limited support, including bug fixes and security updates, until March 31, 2018. Thank you for everything. We'll miss you dearly.