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Trust and the role of design on the web

Peter F, 14 December, 2005 0 Comments

This quote from Zig Zigler, via Tom Asacker’s a cool eye crystalizes a thought that’s been floating around in my brain for a couple of days


Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust.


When we use the web to market our goods or services, we have little
control over the first four obstacles. Sure, we can create a sense of
urgency by offering specials, and we can highlight features to help
build desire, but only to a limited degree.

When it comes to trust though, we can make a significant impact. The
web is an environment unlike print or video. We have the opportunity to
capture a client’s attention, and to keep it for a period. We have the
ability to earn a client’s trust by creating an environment that
supports and reinforces our message and allows us to demonstrate our
ability over time.

I’ve had first hand experience with this recently. I’m in the market
for a particular type of off-the-shelf web reservation system to help
power a client’s website. He’s in an industry where there are literally
hundreds of developers vying for his business. Virtually all the
offerings do the same thing in basically the same way. This software can
literally make or break his company though, and it doesn’t come cheap.
Choosing a developer we trust is vital.

But to date, after viewing hundreds of pages, there
is not a single developer I’m willing to recommend. I don’t trust any of

The reason? Their websites are awful. They display an utter contempt
for the user. There has been no effort made to relate to the customer,
or to display a whit of personality.

The majority of these sites – I’d say over 95% – look like they were
thrown together in a day or so by someone with a copy of Front Page
circa 1996. How can I believe and trust that these companies will be
able to deliver a software product that is in any way better than their
own web presence?

Simple. I can’t. And I don’t.

To be sure, I’m more sensitive to web design than most (most people
don’t swear loudly and pound their desks in frustration when forced to
endure hours upon hours of complete and utter dredge). But in no way
does that diminish my point about trust.

On the web, you have a few seconds to grab my attention, and few more
seconds to help me find what I’m after. If you can do that, you then
have my attention, and can begin to show me why I should trust you. If
you can’t be bothered to even try, then forget it. You aren’t getting my

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