22 May, 2014

Building User Confidence with User Experience (UX) Design

Increasing user confidence online is a constant challenge that both website owners and entrepreneurs face. With the prevalence of scams and frauds in the online community, creating an environment where users feel comfortable interacting, using and buying from a website is essential. User Experience (UX) design is an essential step towards building user confidence and increasing both sales and your user base. (Lead image source: Intel Free Press)

Make it Easy

Website owners have less time than ever to impress and entice potential customers to learn more about their site. While some insist that tech savvy users require different interfaces than casual Internet users, a frustrating design is still a frustrating design. Users of varying technical abilities want a system that works smoothly and seamlessly.
Creating a site that is intuitive for new users but complex enough to engage experienced users is a difficult tightrope to walk. Facebook is a textbook example of how a user friendly website can become unfriendly and unresponsive to new users through continual updates. What was once a very easy to navigate site is now covered in strange icons, making it nearly impossible to navigate paths to gather information. On the other hand, sites like Reddit and Gmail have continually worked to gather new users while increasing the usability and utility of the site for experienced users. Rather than making the sites more complicated to engage seasoned users, both sites expanded on the base options to make their sites more immersive instead. Users want to feel engaged and confident in site navigation, regardless of experience.

Using user experience to build user confidence doesn’t just encourage users to become frequent visitors and customers of the interface, it also gives them the confidence to recommend the system to others. Regardless of the features, a site that is difficult to use will never become the go-to recommendation for anyone other than hardcore users. Use user experience design to ensure both seasoned and new users feel comfortable in their ability to gather information and use the site properly.

Provide Clear Information

Internet users are warier than ever about disclosing personal information and data. With widespread data breaches in personal email accounts and state governments alike, being transparent with user information and accessibility to that information is imperative for building user trust. Luckily for us, finding a balance between User Experience and Security is possible.

Providing a disclosure policy on a website that is easy to find provides users with a degree of trust. Rather than digging through fine print or scouring the site’s policies, this transparency and openness with the distribution (or lack thereof) of data contributes to user confidence in both the developer and the site. Sites like Zappos even go so far as to disclose their privacy policy and safeguards against consumer identity theft on a separate ‘Shop with Confidence’ page to assure customers of their online safety before they put a single item in their cart. Clear information boosts the credibility of websites – something which is essential especially in e-commerce.

Prioritize User Testing

It’s said that the closer you are to a project, the harder it is to view it objectively. UX is no different. User confidence is reliant on a working system. Often, users don’t blame the system for their troubles, they blame themselves. A poorly executed error message will have users reassessing their own use rather than blaming coding errors. These users will become frustrated and ultimately leave the site entirely, never realizing a quick email or call to the company could yield the desired results.

Even more damaging is when users associate a site or interface with computer crashes or consistent errors. While small hiccups in programming may seem innocuous, they degrade any trust or respectability in a site to a regular online user, losing sales and users. Consistent error messages or an inability to use the features of a site send a red flag to users. This alerts them that the developers didn’t care enough to present a completed project, creating a breach of trust when disclosing new data.

User testing is by far the best and easiest way to ensure users are getting a positive experience. While a developer may never think to enter a symbol into a search function, a user with limited online experience may accidentally do just that, alerting developers to a flaw in the usability. This testing ensures that users of all abilities can successfully navigate the site.

Pay Attention to the Details

Often, high arching goals like creating a smooth interface or providing clear sight lines cause developers to lose sight of the basics. No matter how quickly a site loads or how nicely it is laid out, a site riddled with spelling errors or broken buttons will stand out for all the wrong reasons. Simple spelling mistakes drastically undermine user confidence in the business, product or site and lead to a decrease in sales and use. According to eConsultancy, up to 18% of revenue can be put at risk due to website errors. This impact on the bottom line makes attention to detail a first priority when developing a positive user experience.

While user testing may unearth some missed details, a full appraisal of a site and its content is important before going live. Whether it’s hiring a full-time editor or a part-time auditor for content error, catching and preventing these nuanced mistakes that crush user confidence is pivotal. Large online retailers may be able to absorb or overcome misspelled descriptions or broken links, but a smaller website simply doesn’t have the clout or proven track record to risk disclosing personal information. Double and triple checking content and site usability is a simple way to increase user confidence, no redesign necessary.

In Conclusion

UX doesn’t just create a pretty way for users to see and interact with a website. It provides an invaluable service for businesses by providing an attractive and respectable platform that encourages use, sells product sand gathers customer information. Creating a user experience bent towards improving user confidence in the brand, business or website enhances the user experience while strengthening the business it represents.