Trust is one of those topics that we all recognize is important, yet it is quite difficult to define. And even harder to design a Web experience that engenders trust. Many papers and literature reviews have addressed the topic, trying to define trust, determine the elements that comprise trust and most importantly, find a way to convey the elements of trust in a human-computer interaction.
In HFI's November, 2003 UI Design Newsletter, Kath Straub addressed this issue and focused on the use of photographs of people on the site. As with many questions in the field, the use of photographs depended on several issues such as credibility of your brand, perception of trustworthiness of the Web in general, and the experience level of users. Eric Schaffer, HFI's Pragmatic Ergonomist, said the way to enhance trust in e-commerce sites was to apply the user-centered process and research-based principles. Well let's see what has happened since then.
Trust in human-automation partnerships can be defined as "the attitude that an agent will help achieve an individual's goals in a situation characterized by uncertainty..." (Lee & See, 2004). In addition to this goal-oriented perspective, there is an expectancy associated with trust ‚Äď that is to say, what is promised "can be relied upon" (Rotter, 1967).
Another perspective is that trust is "an attitude ... that one's vulnerabilities will not be exploited" (Corritore et al, 2003). Whatever the specific definition, the implications are clear ‚Äď trusted sites will be much more successful than non-trusted sites, whether they be informational or transactional.
In a study of on-line shopping in 26 countries, trust and economic conditions (but not educational level and technological savvy) make a significant positive contribution to on-line shopping behavior (Mahmood et al 2004). There was a strong correlation between on-line shopping in countries around the world and trust ‚Äď defined in this study as thinking most people can be trusted. In general Scandinavian countries had the highest levels of trust and on-line shopping behavior.
As might be expected there are also individual differences in the perception of trust, with some people being more trusting in general. Culture also plays a role in trust. Lee & See (2004) cite studies reporting that the Japanese have a generally lower level of trust. Consumers from Finland, Sweden & Iceland all trusted a simple design, whereas in a complex design, Icelandic customers were the most trusting, and Finnish customers the most wary.
Practically speaking then, how do you design a site so as to convey a message of trust?
At first blush, it appears not so easy to do!
Corritore et al (2003), summarize some of the cues that have been found to impact trustworthiness:
Lee & See (2004) report that Web credibility is dependent on such factors as:
In a study of trust and mistrust of on-line health sites (Sillence et al 2004), design and content features were prominent in establishing trust or mistrust. Specifically, trusted sites incorporated features as follows:
By contrast, mistrusted Web sites had the following factors:
Any surprises here? Not really.
The items look like a listing of dos and don'ts in Web design! The elements of content, navigation, interaction and presentation all seem to play a role in determining if a site is to be trusted or not, as well as the level of that trust.
And lo and behold, the research supports what Eric Schaffer said: if we use research-based principles and apply the user-centered process, it looks like we will come a long way towards developing trusted Web sites and applications.
So maybe designing sites or applications that convey trust is easy to do ‚Äď just design using all the principles we have learned over the years that make for effective human-computer interaction!
Corritore, C.L., Kracher, B., and Weidenbeck, S. (2003). On-Line Trust: Concepts, Evolving Themes, a Model, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 58, 737-758.
Lee, J.D., and See, K.A., (2004) Trust in Automation: Designing for Appropriate Reliance, Human Factors, Vol. 46, No.1.
Mahmood, M.A., Bagchi, K., and Ford, T.C. (2004). On-line Shopping Behavior: Cross-Country Empirical Research, International Journal of Electronic Commerce, Fall 2004, Vol. 9, No., 1, 9-30.
Rotter, J.B. (1967) A New Scale for the Measurement of Interpersonal Trust,Journal of Personality, 35, 651-665.
Sillence, E., Briggs, P., Fishwick, L. and Harris, P. (2004). Trust and Mistrust of Online Health Sites, Proceedings of CHI'2004, April 24-29 2004, Vienna, Austria, ACM Press, 663-670.
Straub, K. and Schaffer, E. (2003). From Bricks to Clicks: Building Customer Trust in the Online Environment, Human Factors International UI Design Newsletter, November 2003.
I enjoyed the write up about trust on the Web. My sense is that usability certainly plays a big part in trusting a company when you visit their Web site. After all, if you can't find what you need and understand what you read on a Web site, you're certainly going to wonder whether the company that created that site knows or cares anything about you!
But I think trust on the Web goes beyond navigation, layout, fonts, colors, and content. I often look at testimonials from customers (with real names), and I look at whether the company offers any personal information about its executive staff. That's something that I really appreciate about the HFI Web site ‚Äď the "big wigs" all provide their pictures, along with friendly, personal information about themselves. This makes them look and feel like real human beings who actually care about something more than profit and loss statements ‚Äď they care about people. And I can trust someone who cares about people!
One of the major drivers of trust is customer satisfaction. When your company does not deliver the product as seen/promised (as is the case in many e-commerce sites), users lose trust in you, however user-centered your design! What is crucial to remember here is that trust is not just limited to the interface but spreads across everything related to the product.
I'm surprised, or maybe not so surprised, to see no mention in this article of source citation as a trust factor in Web design.
I think this poses an interesting question when it comes to online content in general. Do design factors compensate for the legitimacy of information when it comes to trusting health, financial, and other research information on line?
Too often I think Web designers sacrifice citing sources for design. I appreciate that this Website provides clear citation for its sources.
Interesting piece, thanks for putting it together.
I think some general principles about the nature of trust may help here. In my work (sources cited below) I have found useful the Trust Equation--a formulation of the components of being trustworthy: (Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy) / (Self-orientation).
In this approach, credibility has to do with issues like clarity, reputation, credentials, transparency ‚Äď things that help us believe what is being said.
Reliability, by contrast, has to do not with words but with actions. It talks about track record, predictability, breadth of usage, and again reputation.
Intimacy has to do with security ‚Äď am I comfortable sharing this information with this person, will they know how to treat it, will they know when it should be passed on and when held confidential, discretion, sensitivity.
But the fourth factor ‚Äď the one in the denominator ‚Äď is the most powerful. It has to do with motives. Why are you doing what you are doing, and to whom are you paying attention? If the answer is, yourself, then I do not trust you. If the answer is 'me,' then to that extent I do trust you.
Most of those traits ‚Äď the one exception being reliability ‚Äď are traits that affect interpersonal relations, not institutional relations. Trust is largely human and personal, not corporate.
This suggests that the ideal Web site would have some combination of the following attributes:
Others I'm sure will draw further implications from the general principles. (I am a speaker and consultant, co-author of The Trusted Advisor (Free Press, 2000), and author of Trust-based Selling (McGraw-Hill, 2005). More at www.trustedadvisor.com)
Sign up to get our Newsletter delivered straight to your inbox
HFI may use ‚Äúcookies‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúweb beacons‚ÄĚ to track how Users use the Website. A cookie is a piece of software that a web server can store on Users‚Äô PCs and use to identify Users should they visit the Website again. Users may adjust their web browser software if they do not wish to accept cookies. To withdraw your consent after accepting a cookie, delete the cookie from your computer.
HFI believes that every User should know how it utilizes the information collected from Users. The Website is not directed at children under 13 years of age, and HFI does not knowingly collect personally identifiable information from children under 13 years of age online. Please note that the Website may contain links to other websites. These linked sites may not be operated or controlled by HFI. HFI is not responsible for the privacy practices of these or any other websites, and you access these websites entirely at your own risk. HFI recommends that you review the privacy practices of any other websites that you choose to visit.
HFI is based, and this website is hosted, in the United States of America. If User is from the European Union or other regions of the world with laws governing data collection and use that may differ from U.S. law and User is registering an account on the Website, visiting the Website, purchasing products or services from HFI or the Website, or otherwise using the Website, please note that any personally identifiable information that User provides to HFI will be transferred to the United States. Any such personally identifiable information provided will be processed and stored in the United States by HFI or a service provider acting on its behalf. By providing your personally identifiable information, User hereby specifically and expressly consents to such transfer and processing and the uses and disclosures set forth herein.
In the course of its business, HFI may perform expert reviews, usability testing, and other consulting work where personal privacy is a concern. HFI believes in the importance of protecting personal information, and may use measures to provide this protection, including, but not limited to, using consent forms for participants or ‚Äúdummy‚ÄĚ test data.
HFI may use personally identifiable information collected through the Website for the specific purposes for which the information was collected, to process purchases and sales of products or services offered via the Website if any, to contact Users regarding products and services offered by HFI, its parent, subsidiary and other related companies in order to otherwise to enhance Users‚Äô experience with HFI. HFI may also use information collected through the Website for research regarding the effectiveness of the Website and the business planning, marketing, advertising and sales efforts of HFI. HFI does not sell any User information under any circumstances.
HFI may disclose personally identifiable information collected from Users to its parent, subsidiary and other related companies to use the information for the purposes outlined above, as necessary to provide the services offered by HFI and to provide the Website itself, and for the specific purposes for which the information was collected. HFI may disclose personally identifiable information at the request of law enforcement or governmental agencies or in response to subpoenas, court orders or other legal process, to establish, protect or exercise HFI‚Äôs legal or other rights or to defend against a legal claim or as otherwise required or allowed by law. HFI may disclose personally identifiable information in order to protect the rights, property or safety of a User or any other person. HFI may disclose personally identifiable information to investigate or prevent a violation by User of any contractual or other relationship with HFI or the perpetration of any illegal or harmful activity. HFI may also disclose aggregate, anonymous data based on information collected from Users to investors and potential partners. Finally, HFI may disclose or transfer personally identifiable information collected from Users in connection with or in contemplation of a sale of its assets or business or a merger, consolidation or other reorganization of its business.
If a User includes such User‚Äôs personally identifiable information as part of the User posting to the Website, such information may be made available to any parties using the Website. HFI does not edit or otherwise remove such information from User information before it is posted on the Website. If a User does not wish to have such User‚Äôs personally identifiable information made available in this manner, such User must remove any such information before posting. HFI is not liable for any damages caused or incurred due to personally identifiable information made available in the foregoing manners. For example, a User posts on an HFI-administered forum would be considered Personal Information as provided by User and subject to the terms of this section.
Information about Users that is maintained on HFI‚Äôs systems or those of its service providers is protected using industry standard security measures. However, no security measures are perfect or impenetrable, and HFI cannot guarantee that the information submitted to, maintained on or transmitted from its systems will be completely secure. HFI is not responsible for the circumvention of any privacy settings or security measures relating to the Website by any Users or third parties.
Human Factors International, Inc.
PO Box 2020
1680 highway 1, STE 3600
Fairfield IA 52556
HFI reserves the right to cancel any course up to 14 (fourteen) days prior to the first day of the course. Registrants will be promptly notified and will receive a full refund or be transferred to the equivalent class of their choice within a 12-month period. HFI is not responsible for travel expenses or any costs that may be incurred as a result of cancellations.
$100 processing fee if cancelling within two weeks of course start date.
4 Pack + Exam registration: Rs. 10,000 per participant processing fee (to be paid by the participant) if cancelling or transferring the course (4 Pack-CUA/CXA) registration before three weeks from the course start date. No refund or carry forward of the course fees if cancelling or transferring the course registration within three weeks before the course start date.
Individual Modules: Rs. 3,000 per participant ‚Äėper module‚Äô processing fee (to be paid by the participant) if cancelling or transferring the course (any Individual HFI course) registration before three weeks from the course start date. No refund or carry forward of the course fees if cancelling or transferring the course registration within three weeks before the course start date.
Exam: Rs. 3,000 per participant processing fee (to be paid by the participant) if cancelling or transferring the pre agreed CUA/CXA exam date before three weeks from the examination date. No refund or carry forward of the exam fees if requesting/cancelling or transferring the CUA/CXA exam within three weeks before the examination date.
There will be no audio or video recording allowed in class. Students who have any disability that might affect their performance in this class are encouraged to speak with the instructor at the beginning of the class.
The course and training materials and all other handouts provided by HFI during the course are published, copyrighted works proprietary and owned exclusively by HFI. The course participant does not acquire title nor ownership rights in any of these materials. Further the course participant agrees not to reproduce, modify, and/or convert to electronic format (i.e., softcopy) any of the materials received from or provided by HFI. The materials provided in the class are for the sole use of the class participant. HFI does not provide the materials in electronic format to the participants in public or onsite courses.