How to Build Trusting Relationships with Your Users

June 12, 2019

When online, you’re barraged from all angles by noise; it’s no different for your users. Instead of continually bothering the wrong people or showing things unlikely to work, build up trust by having a persona and then validating all of your decisions through the eye of that external person.

It Isn’t For You

When working as a designer of any kind you need to identify the divide between creating for yourself and making for others; there’s a big difference and getting it wrong will cost you (and your client) a lot. The key to good user experience is in the name, USER experience; everything you make should be for the person who will spend every day using it, not for your Instagram followers. As a designer, you have a responsibility to put your ego to the side and find (and then create) the best solution for the end customer, your client (and their users) will thank you.

On the subject of clients: What you design isn’t for them either, and another skill you’ll need to ultimately show is that you understand the user in a way that will let them trust. From here, you are able to parse what is an opinion and separate it from the carefully curated information and learning that will have the impact you hope for.

Listen Carefully

To prevent making solely for your ego or the meaningless opinions of irrelevant parties, you need to go directly to the human that will be the one interfacing with what you create and ask them the important questions to find your way. When you find what will serve the specific user and can tailor the queries you present at such, you work what you create into their life in a way that makes sense to them. Here are a few example questions from my experience that can unearth the insights you need:

  • What’s their day job?
  • What does their day look like?
  • Do they work from home, or in an office?
  • Outside of work, what do they enjoy?
  • What are their hobbies?
  • What things delight them?
  • What scares them?
  • How old are they?
  • What’s their gender?
  • Where do they live?
  • What is their family status?
  • What is their marital status?
  • Where do they consume content?
  • What apps are on their home screen?
  • What is their technical understanding?

The data you receive from asking questions like this give a glimpse into the day to day life and decisions your user makes, as such you are able to empathise with your persona with greater ease. This understanding allows you to see them in the room, and to ensure you’re communicating value in a way they understand based on the experiences you know they have had. As you do more research and refine your persona, you’ll become better at stepping into their shoes and delivering what they’ll want to use and impacts them positively.

Show You Care

After discovering the values and tenants that your audience hold dear, exploit them. Exploitation in this sense isn’t as cynical as the typical cases; here you’re going to adapt what you’ve created to better suit the values you discovered in your ideal user, by asking the right questions to your audience.

When you know how someone thinks and the things that they care most about, you can tailor everything you create to that specific person. By showing this understanding, you build the trust you need to foster a real relationship or instil the trust you need to allow someone to make the leap to become a customer.

Don’t Break Trust

One of the only things harder than showing up and offering value often enough to build trust, is getting it back when you break it.

Going back on your word or not delivering on the things you promise will alienate those you seek to help. These people who you hoped to welcome into your ecosystem will be turned away (and definitely won’t be running to tell their friends or colleagues) if you fail to deliver or go back on something you have said. When someone commits to trusting you and you break that trust, it’s a big deal. Entire empires have fallen from a single break of trust. And it usually can’t be recovered or gotten back.

When you work hard to get the trust of someone, always check your future communications with that person to make sure that what you are saying lines up with what you offered them in the first place, and helps them on their journey towards their aspirations.

Validate and Test

To make sure you are always offering your best you need to be constantly iterating and improving what you put out to your target audience. By constantly working to hone your offering, you are always pushing closer to being able to show you understand, you relate; and as a result, it becomes much easier present what the better future could look like for someone as they know you “get it”.

When testing, you should always work with the people who represent who will be using what you make often and have experience with the kinds of products or creations you’re working on right now.

You wouldn’t ask a surfer for advice on running your coffee shop; find the right people to validate your ideas with, or you’ll end up more confused instead of finding the clarity you hope for.

Keep Them In Mind

Have validating questions and persona passions so you always create for the person using what you make, rather than your own ego or the opinions of people who will not end up using what you make on a daily basis. Find those with the most relevant and consistent opinions and use them to check things before you get it out there into the world.

Imagine the person you are making for there in the room with you as you create and ask questions, the answers are the things that guide your way to acquiring the trust you desire from the people you hope to help. Trust is earned. Not given. Remember that and always fulfil expectations that you create. Create belief and then deliver to those standards. Don’t overpromise or deliver buggy or unsuitable products to the people you promise to help.

In short, back up what you say you’ll provide. Show your value and reap the rewards.

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