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Insights & Analytics

Do Your Users Trust Your Site?

When someone uses your website or app, they invest their limited time and sometimes money. Will the effort that they spend entering data be worth it, or will it be a waste of time? That depends on what the app does, and relies on how it is built and what it does with the data.

User Trust

Recently we worked on a Life Sciences application that stored health information on the local device. Browsers allow several ways of storing data. One approach considered was placing data into the local storage. Using that approach would make the user’s data subject to the clearing of the browser cache. And how many times have you had to clear your cache because another application had hung the system—or you were just surfing a lot recently and needed to reclaim space? Potentially months of carefully entered data would be lost and your customer’s effort wasted. We avoided this issue by using the indexedDB that’s included in current browsers. Using JavaScript and open source libraries, it’s straightforward to implement and performs well. The advantage in this case was the ability to avoid losing data when the browser cache was cleared.

Trust is generated by clear presentation. When users understand what’s expected of them, and are able to execute those expectations, they will feel confident that the app is doing what they expect. One approach is to follow Internet norms so that users don’t have to guess at functionality. Where the presentation needs to deviate from the norms, then detail EXACTLY how it deviates and how the user can take advantage of that deviation. Make sure that they receive value for dealing with the deviation.

Your architecture also affects the trust generated. Slow performance wastes the user’s time unless they understand what is happening while they wait. Make sure that performance is evaluated and compared against similar sites. Size the servers so that they are appropriate for the workload—and reevaluate the size on a regular basis. That shouldn’t be a challenge now that cloud environments are common.

Architecture is more than just the infrastructure. It is also the quality and organization of the code. Of course, best practices such as unit testing and QA are used, but consider how the architecture can build the trust of the user. Such things as edge cases should be considered and handled. While it may not seem to be of much value to handle that one edge case that may occur once in a million attempts, it’s probably very important to that user. And with social media, the trust—or lack of trust—that your user has in your application can be amplified.

Remember, trust is the result of the user receiving value for their effort in visiting your site or using your application.

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Luke Templin
Luke has worked in the IT field supporting and developing software in the telecommunications, energy, insurance and life sciences for the past 20 years. With the technical team at Cadient, Luke works with the brand teams to develop sites and apps exceeding client expectations. Luke has an MS in Forest Economics from the University of Washington and a BS in Forestry from the University of Idaho.

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