Trust is the new currency of the global economy. It makes or breaks sites while cementing the relationships upon which the strongest brands are built. By virtue of having so many facets, trust acquisition is almost an art, but we really do know that it's more of a science.
As such, it relies on a lot of visual and support elements such as a clean and fast interface, clear language and inobtrusive opportunities for human interaction. But it's also about assurance, and the amount of perceived safety offered by a good site translates directly into the warm and fuzzy feelings that visitors want to take away and share.
One site that offers such warm-fuzzies is Kiva (full disclosure: the author is a Kiva lender and passionate fan of the microlending movement). Their site is spectacularly successful not only because it is doing great things with a fantastic business model but also because it is user-centric. And those elements of safety and risk mitigation that appeal to our higher brain functions? Here they are:
- They are easy to reach with a direct - if general - email address
- They offer transactional processing through a trusted partner, not a custom designed concoction
- There are actual people behind the initiative and although they take a back seat to not distract from the mission of the site, it is clear that this is a site for people, by people, and not a faceless online brochure connected to a payment form.
- The smoothly integrated social and financial features offer clear opportunities for review and consent before anything happens
Perhaps the neatest thing about this is that the site incorporates security features and clearly cares about user privacy, but Kiva does so in a way that avoids bold claims and sidesteps the need to educate users about the technical aspects of these important notions. In so doing, it eliminates the anxiety often associated with financial transactions made online. In effect, comfort and trust are nurtured while users navigate the site's friendly interface, rather than by forcing the audience to undertake their own due diligence process and risking never to return.
And you thought this was going to be a deep and technical post about security technology and privacy compliance! I'm suggesting that by learning to embed these great risk mitigating features into the way we do business, we don't have to automatically associate them with the negative and largely emotional notions of complexity, cost and effort.