Trust is something that is formed in human relations, but also it is incredibly important for the web as it determines whether a user will perform the desired action or not.

In a distant 1999, Jakob Nielsen listed 4 factors that play a critical role in determining your ’s : design quality, upfront disclosure, comprehensive and current content, and connection to the rest of the web. For 17 years ago the listed factors continue to influence users, even though the web itself has vastly evolved.

Let’s take a closer look at what to focus on in order to cultivate trust through web UI.

Design Quality

If something can go wrong with your website, it will. Make sure you pay enough attention to user interface design (UI design), navigation, and small details even though they might seem unimportant.

Visual design

Does visual identity matter to you? According to Stanford Web Credibility Project, “nearly half of all consumers (46.1%) in the study assessed the credibility of sites based in part on the appeal of the overall visual design of a site, including layout, typography, font size and color schemes.” We bet you are in that half of consumers.

A visual impression comes from using the right image with the right colors for a website. Many colors can create a dark and dull aura while others just don’t seem to go along. Colors give life to your website and it is up to you to decide what kind of life you want to give it.

LEAF’s light and clean UI design with a natural palette of colors keeps things fresh and neat.

In most cases, web designers are perfectionists. They are trying to that polished and “professional looking” visual design and make an indelible first impression. But the thing is the users do not agree with that attitude: “It looks like it’s designed by a marketing team, and not by people who want to get you the information that you need.” That is not the first impression you want to make, don’t you? Keep in mind the customers for whom you are making a website.


We expect sites to behave in a certain way. For example, the usual click on the logo should take you back to the homepage or click on a hamburger button should open a menu. When something goes wrong and things don’t function as expected, we feel uncomfortable and even disappointed.

The fact that the people who built the site and didn’t care enough to make things obvious — and easy — can erode our confidence in the site and its publishers.

Steve Krug, Don’t Make Me Think

You may wonder what the browsing experience should be like? I’m sure you heard this multiple times, but I will say it again: it should be user-friendly. Any negative interaction experience can significantly damage the potential relationship with your site and, moreover, with your brand.

On the other hand, a smooth user experience creates a sense of familiarity — an aspect that is essential for trust. It can be achieved in two ways. First, know your user. By saying that I mean, know what their motivation is to go to your site, what kind of information they are searching for, what are their expectations, how they behave themselves on the web, and so on. Second, let your site be consistent. That means using the same style and color scheme across pages, placing features in the same place (for instance, search option always in the upper-right corner), and giving visuals the same functions across the whole website (green button always means Save). That is what UX designers call internal consistency.

And there is one more thing, which is extremely important. No false buttons. Only buttons should look like buttons.

Pupsocial clear and simple navigation makes a user feel easily guided, even with a lot of varying content to access.

Typos, broken links, and other mistakes

For many users, a grammatical error is much more significant than just a missing or wrong symbol. A typing mistake is an indicator of company’s carelessness and lack of attention to detail. This applies to broken links as well: a user follows a link, waits till it gets loaded, and is being welcomed by error 404. Not a big deal, you may say. But the fact is the user feels like having wasted his precious time and you are the one who stole it. Not the best experience you can possibly provide, huh?

One more thing: don’t get too creative with links design. They don’t have to impress users but must be obvious. When a designing game goes too far, users have to point the cursor on the text to find out what’s clickable and what’s not. That’s additional work you make a user do. Avoid this by underlining each link.

You will be surprised, but that old-school blue links still work best. In 2016, Google has been experimenting with a color for its search result links, and it was not a tried-and-true blue. It was black. And guess what? It was freaking users out. The blue links have been around for so long that they have become borderline dogma for web design.

Upfront Disclosure

People appreciate truth on the web as much as in real life. Don’t try to trick them by hiding whichever details. Not specifying shipping charges is a bad idea. You may lure some people into ordering by hiding the shipping costs, but that would be the last time they use your site. You better pray for them not to tell their friends or write a Facebook post about such dishonest and uncaring attitude of your company.

Another case: just imagine that you just landed on an e-book website and it asks you for paid membership/card information, before even providing you with such basic information as the list of books available or their prices. We bet that distrust is guaranteed.

Comprehensive and Current Content

Sometimes being upright isn’t just about basic information sharing.

FAQ Section

There is a cohort of users that don’t like to browse sites and go directly to the FAQ page to get answers to their questions. And you have to be prepared: do a research on frequently asked questions. Make all important information easy to access by adding a search or quick links and this will provide the feeling of transparency, and demonstrate that you understand your users.

McDonald’s Canada has a highly responsive designed FAQ page with quick links

Guarantee and Reviews

Customers know that no product lasts forever but want to know if it is worth the money they are spending. By using a psychological concept called “social proof”, which states that people tend to follow the lead of other people and look to others for guidance, you can win trustworthiness point for your website. It means that if others have indicated something as safe, an individual will be much more comfortable using it. How can you take advantage of that? Highlight testimonials and reviews or any notable achievements and awards. Show customer’s success stories to demonstrate reliability, credibility, and trustiness of your brand.


Let your users see you: they appreciate websites that contain a large amount of relevant content. Make sure to include photos of your products, in-progress images, and their end results. Do we need to point out that the shots must be high quality and definitely not downloaded from the first stock of Google Search page?

Connected to the Rest of the Web

Users often conduct research on companies, and if they do not find any or much information on the Internet, it decreases the website trustworthiness. Sites with no links in and out are isolated and give an impression like they have something to hide.

Make the first step to connectivity by keeping your contact information in clear view of users. The phone number and email address are the two most common communication channels between business and a customer. If you have a chat room, specify the time when users can contact you, stay online and your customers will recognize that you are ready to be close to them. And obviously, you can never overlook the power of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Final Thoughts

Trust is hard to build and easy to lose. Some of the mentioned techniques might seem obvious, but it’s not superfluous to be reminded that following them is crucial for building the long-lasting trustful website. As it was said by Jakob Nielsen,

Trust is a long-term proposition that builds slowly as people use a site, get good results, and don’t feel let down or cheated. In other words, true trust comes from a company’s actual behaviour towards customers experienced over an extended set of encounters.

By MEAT Agency

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